P Ramakrishnan: Defeating the Budget – Why Not Now? Why Later?

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If Pakatan Harapan (PH) cannot succeed at the policy stage, how definite is PH that on 17 December it will not fail to defeat the Budget, P Ramakrishnan asks.

Malaysians were baffled and disappointed with the last-minute strategy adopted by Pakatan Harapan not to defeat the budget at the policy stage.

We are made to understand that they will vigorously fight at the committee stage and call for a block vote on 17 December to defeat the Budget. What is the difference? That is my question.

Will it make a difference whether Budget 2021 is defeated now or later? What is the advantage? That is my question.

We are informed that those Umno rebels who were supposed to support PH’s decision to oppose the Budget had gone back on their word. How sure is PH that these very turncoats will return to support it later? That is also my question.

Your original opposition to the Budget was based on the fact that it was discriminatory, unfair, lopsided, did not address the core issues of poverty and the burdensome mammoth debt that we are saddled with and so forth. Are these issues of concern still in the Budget that was passed yesterday? That is my question.

Those troubling issues, as Malaysians understand, are still there in the Budget. They have not been dropped. The allocations for Jasa have not been cancelled. The allocations for the Indians and Chinese have not increased. What has changed to deserve PH’s support? That is my question.

As we see it, nothing has changed except that now some additional goodies have been thrown in and promised. Are these inducements and subtle bribery provided to seek PH’s support? Have these goodies whitewashed altogether the original unfairness in the Budget to remove all of PH’s objections? That is also my question.

Well, according to thousands of Malaysians, the unfairness of the Budget is not a perceived injustice but a fact that is staring at them on a daily basis. The unfairness is not a perceived injustice but a real denial of equal treatment to the needy, irrespective of colour and creed. Have the goodies removed all these wrongs? That is also a question.

A question was raised why there was no objection when the PH Budget last year provided for RM12.8 billion for the Malays and bumiputras. Did Budget 2020 provide RM100 million for Indians and RM177 million for the Chinese to object? Were the allocations for them equitable and fair? When there was no glaring disparity why should they vehemently object? That is my question.

It is claimed the defeat of the Budget would affect the salaries of government servants and deprive services to the people. But didn’t these people also argue that the incoming government can present an alternative budget and get it passed? It was also observed that there is a constitutional provision to pass a provisional budget to tide over the immediate needs. So, what is the problem? That is also a question.

If PH cannot succeed at the policy stage, how definite is PH that on 17 December it will not fail to defeat the Budget? That is also my question.

It has also been explained there was this fear PH would be perceived as having rejected the additional goodies for the people – a fear that is without merit. After all, the alternative budget it has been speaking about would have taken care of this grievance, and what would be allocated in the alternative budget would have addressed the needs of the poor. So, what is the rationale? That is my question.

Friends, there comes a time when inaction is also seen as a betrayal.

I rest my case. – Aliran

The views expressed here are strictly those of the author P Ramakrishnan, the former president of Aliran.