Wong Chen: Support for Budget Must Be Won with Reforms

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The ruling Perikatan Nasional should be made to deliver key democratic reforms in return for Pakatan Harapan’s support of the federal Budget, Subang MP Wong Chen said today.

In a statement explaining that PN rivals only resorted to threatening the federal Budget as it was their final avenue to test the support of the prime minister, he said allowing unfettered motions of no-confidence should be the absolute minimum price exacted for this support.

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.

While Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun has confirmed that over 16 no-confidence motions have been submitted against Muhyiddin, he repeated his insistence that these would only be attended to after all government matters were concluded.

“So, the Budget vote then becomes the one and only silver bullet the Opposition has to test the legitimacy of the government. Therefore, we can’t simply surrender this silver bullet to the prime minister for free.

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“Instead, we must consider using this as an all-important bargaining chip, to obtain some much needed reforms to save democracy,” he told the PH coalition in a statement.

He said allowing motions of no-confidence to readily enter Parliament’s agenda would not only prevent lawmakers from threatening to block the Budget but would also allow Parliament to effectively test the legitimacy of any prime minister and prevent a “dictatorship”.

Wong said the PN government should also provide a written undertaking to enact a law that would give Parliament financial and administrative independence from the Executive at the first opportunity next year.

Despite the separation of powers doctrine, Parliament still falls under the authority of a federal minister, currently PAS secretary-general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan.

While Wong said he could think of hundreds of other reforms to pursue, he urged the PH leadership to begin with these two recommendations.

The Subang MP said the Muhyiddin administration’s failed attempt to seek a proclamation of emergency has shown that it was imperative to install safeguards into Malaysia’s democracy through urgent reforms.

He also urged the PN government to demonstrate sincerity for bipartisanship by granting lawmakers a full briefing on Budget 2021 before this is tabled.

“After that, let the budget vote for reform negotiations start, for the sake of the people, democracy and the nation,” he said. – MMO