KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 ― Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar and two more PKR MPs have called for an Economic, Social and Welfare Caucus in Parliament to address what they claim was Budget 2021’s failure to provide sufficient social safety nets for the underprivileged.
Acknowledging the failure of the Opposition to vote down the Budget yesterday following orders by party leaders to stand down, Nurul Izzah said Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) supporters have made it emphatically clear that it was crucial for lawmakers to be dictated by their conscience in matters of national importance.
“We ourselves were ready to vote down the Budget until the last-minute instructions to stand down, which we adhered to as per the conventions of party discipline.
“We want to honour that trust placed in us and act accordingly,” she said in a statement on Facebook.
The statement was also undersigned by two PKR MPs namely Johor Bahru MP Akmal Nasir and Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Karim.
Nurul Izzah pointed out how MPs were voted in by the people to represent their interests but admitted said MPs fell short of fulfilling expectations which indubitably left many of its supporters disappointed.
“As members of parliament, we must, first and foremost, represent our constituents in the Dewan Rakyat.
“As members of the Opposition in a parliamentary democracy, we also have the responsibility of providing sufficient checks and balances against the excesses of the government,” she said.
Nurul Izzah said it was consequently incumbent on the MPs to rectify matters and acknowledge their shortcomings which they intend to do through the creation of the aforementioned caucus.
“Having spent the night reflecting on the Budget vote, we have decided to come together to champion clear-cut policy alternatives by diligently performing our role as Opposition lawmakers.
“A Budget that overpromises on revenue and undercuts vital services is not one that serves the needs of the rakyat,” she said, adding that the government of the day must focus on providing concrete and definitive policies on job creation and social safety nets.
She critiqued the government’s intervention in allowing early EPF withdrawals in times when savings have not increased, likening to forcing people to borrow from their future.
“The government should prioritise providing relief funds instead in order to protect our savings and future-proof our retirement.
“There is also a lack of focus on job creation especially at a time when many Malaysians have been forced out of work as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent economic crisis,” she said.
Opposition leader and PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim confirmed yesterday that he gave the order to stand down and today admitted that the leaders of the other PH components did not share his stance.
PH parties subsequently came under heavy criticism from supporters for their apparent failure to try and reject Budget 2021 despite their previously vociferous complaints about it.
Despite anticipation of heavy resistance to Perikatan Nasional’s maiden Budget 2021, the federal spending plan sailed past the policy stage when just 13 Opposition lawmakers stood to try and force bloc voting.
Voting in Budget 2021 had come under extreme scrutiny as there was an expectation that it could be rejected.
By convention, a rejection of the federal Budget is considered a successful vote of no-confidence against the ruling party and should be met by the resignation of the entire Cabinet.