Umno vice-president Mohamed Khaled Nordin has suggested that MPs should be allowed to break ranks with their party during the Budget 2021 vote in the Dewan Rakyat if they disagreed with the fiscal document.
This is amid uncertainty whether Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin can secure enough support to pass his government’s budget for next year.
Muhyiddin only commands the support of 112 MPs in the 222-member Dewan Rakyat. There are also two vacancies following the death of a government and opposition lawmaker.
“If an MP is convinced that the allocations and initiatives in Budget 2021 need to be improved or do not cater to the needs of targeted groups, then they should state their position.
“This is even if it means that their position will differ from the party’s position.
“Taking a different position is not betrayal. The true betrayal would be to follow without giving any thought. The people did elect MPs who are detached from the pulse of the people,” Khaled said in a statement.
Khaled added that his proposal was even more relevant for Umno.
“Every MP must make a decision that they think is best for the country’s well-being, not only for their party’s interest.
“What more when Umno is not (formally) part of Perikatan Nasional,” he said.
Last month, Umno announced that it might quit the PN government if Muhyiddin, who is also the Bersatu president, did not offer Umno a “new deal”.
Muhyiddin has not publicly indicated whether he will accede to their demands, and Umno has yet to follow through with its threat.
However, the first Budget 2021 vote is expected to begin on Nov 26, raising the stakes.
With four days to the vote, Khaled stressed that MPs should support, reject or abstain on the vote based on their “conscience”.
“Malaysia needs to move towards enriching the practice of bipartisan politics with a focus on forming a national consensus that cuts across political ideology for the sake of national interest.
“The people hope for the MPs to do their best; therefore, good ideas, including from the opposing side, will always be supported.
“Foolish ideas, including from our own party or partners, will be rejected,” he said.
He added that requiring MPs to vote en bloc does not reflect a party’s strength and instead stifles diversity.
“Budget 2021 has many good things, but it also needs to be recalibrated to make it better,” he said.