MPs can ensure frontliners are paid by giving partial approval to budget

“It’s not a take it or leave it budget.”

Senior lawyer Datuk Seri Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos says Parliament can approve portions of Budget 2021 to ensure frontliners and civil servants are paid on time.

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, had last week, claimed the government will not be able to pay the salaries of civil servants and give assistance for frontliners in the war against Covid-19 if Budget 2021 is not approved by the Dewan Rakyat.

“What is important is the people. The MPs can come to a consensus and give partial approval to the important sections of the budget,” said Jahaberdeen.

“The frontliners and the war against Covid-19 are the priority. The MPs can approve this part of the budget while debating the rest.

“It doesn’t mean that if the majority of the MPs are against the budget the war against Covid-19 will stop.”

He cited Article 102 of the Federal Constitution which gives Parliament power to authorise expenditure on account or for unspecified purposes.

It states Parliament shall have power in respect of any financial year:

(a) before the passing of the Supply Bill, to authorise by law expenditure for part of the year;
(b) to authorise by law expenditure for the whole or part of the year otherwise than in accordance with Articles 99 to 101.

“If the debate on the budget is not politicised, then it becomes very easy for the MPs to look at specific items that should be passed,” said Jahaberdeen.

“Neither party should use the budget as a show of strength or tug of war. Approve what is essential. The contentious parts of the budget can still be debated.”

He added when previous budgets were passed, there were always amendments to the Supply Bill.

Jahaberdeen said one reason why Budget 2021 is having issues is that the stakeholders were not included in the planning. Tengku Zafrul had earlier said the budget – the biggest ever at RM322.5 billion – was based on 38 dialogues with over 40 businesses and industries nationwide.

“It is obvious the government that prepared the budget didn’t engage with all the stakeholders. The problem is, we have a unique government and we have a unique situation (Covid-19).

“A unique situation calls for a unique solution. Yet, so many people are overlooking Article 102 and I don’t know why.”

Here’s a round-up of The News Normal today.

THAIS NABBED OVER FATAL SHOOTING AT MSIA-THAI BORDER

Four people were arrested by Malaysian and Thai authorities hours after a shooting incident at the Malaysia-Thailand border in Perlis early this morning.

The Bangkok Post reported that the clash was between the Malaysian police personnel and kratom smugglers. General Operations Force (GOF) officer Corporal Baharuddin Ramli, 54, was killed and his partner Corporal Norihan Tari, 39, was critically injured in the 3am incident.

It was reported that Malaysian commandos who later swept the area arrested an injured smuggler while Bangkok Post reported that Thai police arrested three Thais linked to the shootout.

EC TO MEET ON FRIDAY OVER GERIK, BUGAYA BY-ELECTIONS

The Election Commission (EC) will hold a meeting on Friday morning to discuss the by-elections in Gerik, Perak and Bugaya, Sabah.

Datuk Hasbullah Osman, the four-term Gerik MP, died on Nov 16. Bugaya MP Manis Muka Mohd Darah died the next day due to kidney problems.

The by-elections could be postponed. The Batu Sapi by-election was cancelled after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong declared an emergency in accordance with Article 150 of the Federal Constitution due to the spike in Covid-19 cases in Sabah.

The Batu Sapi election, initially scheduled for Dec 5, was called after incumbent Datuk Liew Vui Keong passed away on Oct 2 due to a lung infection.

‘WHY KITINGAN ALLOWED IN PARLIAMENT?’

There was a ruckus in Parliament this morning when opposition MPs questioned if Keningau lawmaker Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan had observed the 14-day self-quarantine process.

Kitingan had attended the Sabah state assembly on Nov 12. By right, he would have to undergo 14 days quarantine upon entering peninsular Malaysia from Sabah.

Although the opposition MPs insisted he leave Parliament, Deputy Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Seri Azalina Mohd Said allowed him to remain after receiving an explanation he had obtained the relief order after completing the quarantine from the Health Ministry.

RAS ADIBA GETS APPOINTMENT LETTER AS FIRST FEMALE BERNAMA CHAIRMAN

Senator Ras Adiba Mohd Radzi, who was named the first female chairman of national news agency Bernama on Friday, received her appointment letter at a press conference today.

She received the letter from Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, who said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah gave his consent for the appointment.

Ras Adiba, who was appointed a senator in May, succeeds Suhaimi Sulaiman who resigned on Aug 6. She will serve for three years.

THE TOLL OF INJURY ON MENTAL HEALTH

It’s hard asking for help and support from a professional when you’re injured and are in a dark place. What is even more difficult is going through your problems alone, writes sports psychologist Bryan Win.