It also leads up to the Budget 2021 tabling on Friday and ongoing talks of Covid-19 impact
KUALA LUMPUR – After six weeks of nonstop political drama, the last Dewan Rakyat sitting of the year is the most anticipated so far.
Starting today, eyes are mostly on the prime minister keeping his position and the passing of Budget 2021.
Ever since opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on September 23 announced majority support, effectively toppling the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government led by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Malaysians have witnessed manoeuvrings from various parties to gain an upper hand
It all came to a head when Muhyiddin’s bid for an emergency order was rejected by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on October 25.
The royal decree also sent a message to politicians to stop politicking and another decree reminding them of the importance to pass the Budget 2021 that will be tabled on Friday.
This did not stop lawmakers from holding meetings, mostly to secure party demands and jostling for more power and support.
As of last week, it has been reported that opposition MPs had filed 25 no-confidence motions and pro-Muhyiddin lawmakers filed two confidence motions.
This did not include Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s letter to Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun pushing for Langkawi MP Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s previous motion of no-confidence be given priority in this sitting.
However, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun had insisted the government businesses take precedence in the Order Paper, and only a minister could initiate the process of moving any non-government businesses to jump the queue.
The PN alliance is currently shaky ground. Muhyiddin’s meetings with his PN allies yesterday is said to not only garner their support in the event of a no-confidence motion but also to move a confidence motion for the current prime minister.
Pakatan Harapan (PH) meanwhile is faced with a Budget dilemma – those who vote against it may be seen as being defiant of Agong’s advice.
Budget 2021 remains the key government bill this sitting. If it is defeated, healthcare frontliners will have an uphill task to carry out efforts to stem Covid-19. It also signals the lack of confidence in Muhyiddin being prime minister.
In Malaysia’s history, the budget bill has never been defeated before.
But as one senior PH politician said: “We are not a rubber stamp Parliament.”
Perhaps the consultative meeting yesterday between Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz and PH leaders will lead towards a more conciliatory Budget 2021.
One is also waiting with bated breath as to what Dr Mahathir will pull out of his bag of tricks this sitting.
Having lost the support of both PN and PH, it is anyone’s guess if the Langkawi MP and twice former prime minister will support or move to defeat the Budget.
Return of Anti-Fake News Act?
Seen in tomorrow’s Order Paper is the motion filed by PAS’ Jerai MP Sabri Azit on the repealed Anti-Fake News Act. Previously, the Act had courted criticism that it was being used to silence the media and stifle freedom of expression.
According to his motion, Sabri is urging the government to review the need to reintroduce the Anti-Fake News Act to tackle the rampant dissemination of fake news and slander in the country.
“Such distribution of fake news will threaten the country’s security and stability and can result in an unpeaceful atmosphere in our plural society.
“Awareness campaigns to fight fake news should also be increased so the people are more aware and will check on the authenticity of a piece of news before sharing it,” the motion read.
In the Order Paper for today are various questions and motions on tackling Covid-19 as the country battles the third wave of infections. MPs are eager to know how money has been spent on the pandemic as well as current mitigation proposals.
Malaysia has been recording new Covid-19 cases in the high hundreds, forcing Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Sabah to enforce the conditional movement control order. Several hotspots are also under tighter restrictions.
MPs are also keen on addressing the economic impact of Covid-19 towards SMEs, traders, youths, underprivileged communities and unemployment.
But with the question mark over the longevity of this current government, it will be interesting to see if the debates are going to be skewed towards sending Muhyiddin towards the exit or keeping him in his current seat.