Not budging: All eyes locked on PN for Budget 2021 presentation

All eyes will be on proceedings in the Dewan Rakyat, especially the 2021 Budget, which is the first for the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government, when the lower house of Parliament reconvenes today after being adjourned since Aug 27.

The third meeting of the third session of the 14th Parliament will last 27 days from today to Dec 15.

This sitting will be challenging for the PN government in light of political developments.

PN’s first budget, which will be tabled by Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz, is expected to be accompanied by heated debates.

Opposition members of parliament have indicated that they would back the 2021 Budget only if it benefited the people amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The budget is expected to be debated at the policy and committee levels for five weeks, before it is put to a vote.

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah had, last Wednesday, advised MPs to support the budget for the sake of harmony and people’s livelihoods.

Reminding politicians to end political dissent, the king had stressed that the budget was vital for the government and the authorities, particularly frontliners, to continue implementing policies and efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19 .

With PN’s slim majority in Parliament, opposition support for the budget would be crucial for Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to avoid a political crisis, and to provide resources for frontliners to manage the pandemic.

Of the 222 MPs, 112 are PN parliamentarians, while 108 are in the opposition camp.

There is one independent MP, and one seat is vacant following the death of Batu Sapi MP Datuk Liew Vui Keong on Oct 1.

Also expected in the proceedings are the second and third readings of the Independent Police Conduct Commission Bill 2020.

The bill seeks to establish an independent oversight commission to improve the integrity, reduce misconduct and promote public confidence in the police force.

The Dewan Rakyat received two motions for a vote of confidence in Muhyiddin, which has been included in today’s Order Paper.

The two motions were submitted by Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh (Pas-Pasir Puteh) and Datuk Seri Dr Shahidan Kassim (BN-Arau), which have been listed as items 20 and 46, respectively.

Also listed are 25 motions for a vote of no-confidence in Muhyiddin, all proposed by opposition lawmakers.

The first vote of no-confidence listed in the Order Paper is from Datuk Amiruddin Hamzah (Independent-Kubang Pasu) as Item 18.

Other MPs who have proposed votes of no-confidence include former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (Independent-Langkawi) and four others from his party, Pejuang; seven from Parti Warisan Sabah; 11 from Parti Amanah Negara; and one each from PKR and DAP.

As with the previous sitting, the National Security Council has put in place strict standard operating procedures (SOPs), which require MPs, their officers, ministry personnel and the media to undergo Covid-19 testing three days before attending Parliament.

The SOP prohibits patients under investigation and persons under surveillance from entering Parliament.

Temperature screenings will be taken at the entrance to the Parliament building, with all present required to put on a face mask in the Parliament complex, and observe physical distancing of at least 1m at all times.