All Eyes on Budget 2021 as No-Confidence Motions Fizzle Out

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A historic number of no-confidence motions against Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin have been filed in Dewan Rakyat but none will likely be heard when the house convenes tomorrow as government business will take precedence.

The first of the 24 no-confidence motions is item No. 19 out of 64 motions, according to the order paper when the Dewan Rakyat meets starting tomorrow until December 15 for the third meeting of the third term of the 14th Parliament.

The first of such motions is by Amiruddin Hamzah (Kubang Pasu-independent), which can only be debated after 18 other motions comprising four by the government, 11 by backbenchers, one from Upko’s Wilfred Tangau (Tuaran) and two from DAP’s Fong Kui Lun (Bukit Bintang-PH), have been debated.

Even if Wilfred and Fong were to withdraw their motions, it is still unlikely Amiruddin’s no-confidence motion and the other 23 will be bumped up.

Of the 24 no-confidence motions against the prime minister, five are from independent MPs from the yet-to-be registered Pejuang, 12 from Pakatan Harapan MPs and seven from Warisan.

Besides Amiruddin, the other 23 MPs who filed no-confidence motions are Dr Mahathir Mohamad (Langkawi-independent), Mukhriz Mahathir (Jerlun-independent), Maszlee Malik (Simpang Renggam-independent), Mohd Azis Jamman (Sepanggar-Warisan), Khalid Samad (Shah Alam-PH), Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis (Kota Belud-Warisan), Darell Leiking (Penampang-Warisan), Lim Lip Eng (Kepong-PH), Hanipa Maidin (Sepang-PH), Mohamaddin Ketapi (Lahad Datu-Warisan), Ahmad Hassan (Papar-Warisan), Mohd Shafie Apdal (Semporna-Warisan), Ma’mun Sulaiman (Kalabakan-Warisan), Christina Liew (Tawau-PH),  Hatta Ramli (Lumut-PH), Mohamad Sabu (Kota Raja-PH), Mujahid Yusof Rawa (Parit Buntar-PH), Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (Kuala Selangor-PH), Anuar Mohd Tahir (Temerloh-PH), Hasan Baharom (Tampin-PH), Mahfuz Omar (Pokok Sena-PH), Hasanuddin Mohd Yunus (Hulu Langat-PH), Salahuddin Ayub (Pulai-PH), Shahruddin Md Salleh (Sri Gading-independent).

There was, however, two confidence motions for Muhyiddin filed by PAS’ controversial lawmaker Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh (Pasir Puteh), as well as Barisan Nasional’s Shahidan Kassim (Arau).

Nik Zawawi’s confidence motion is listed as No. 20, after Amiruddin’s no-confidence motion, while Shahidan’s motion is listed as No. 46.

PM under siege

With the no-confidence motions unlikely to reach the floor, the highlight of this meeting will undoubtedly be centred around next year’s budget.

Besides being Muhyiddin and Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) first budget since taking over in March, the focus will be on what measures the government will introduce to lift the economy following the Covid-19 pandemic.

In August, Bank Negara reported that Malaysia’s economy contracted 17.1% in the second quarter following the movement-control order in March.

This was Malaysia’s worst performance and the first quarterly decline since the third quarter of 2009, amid the global financial crisis, and much lower than Reuters (-10%) and Bloomberg’s (-10.1%) median forecasts.

But more than the measures that will be introduced in Budget 2021, much of the attention will be on whether Muhyiddin can get his first budget passed by the 222-member Dewan Rakyat.

Muhyiddin has a razor-thin support of 113, but recent political developments and in what many feel to be double standards in the government’s handling of Covid-19 for VIPs have cast doubts over his popularity among government MPs and the public in general.

More so, when Muhyiddin attempted to pause politics by seeking an emergency proclamation from the palace. After his attempt was shot down by the king last Sunday, the Bersatu president is now forced to cut deals with disgruntled ally, Umno, and with the opposition.

Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz is to meet several PH MPs today for a discussion on the budget.

PH, meanwhile, had also said it is willing to reach a confidence-and-supply agreement on the budget if the government could meet its demands for certain reforms.

Added to Muhyiddin’s woes is Umno’s earlier threat to withdraw its support for the PN government unless there is a new “deal” for them. Although several media outlets had speculated that Muhyiddin was due to appoint a deputy prime minister from Umno, nothing has happened yet.

While Umno announced a political ceasefire last week, it reiterated its stand that fresh elections must be called as soon as the Covid-19 pandemic is under control.

Currently, there are no constitutional provisions for the prime minister to resign if the national budget is defeated and a lot can still happen before Muhyiddin reads out his first budget speech on November 6.

Other bills on the table

The meeting, which is the final one for the year, will see the government table two amendment bills for the Cooperative Societies Act and Poisons Act.

Also expected is a government motion for debate on the Independent Police Conduct Commission (IPCC) bill.

The IPCC bill was tabled for first reading in the last meeting on August 26.

PN will also be tabling two new bills to amend the Occupational Safety and Health Act and repeal the Factory and Machinery Act. Both are listed down as first reading. – TMI