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Opposition MPs stage walkout

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 4 - All Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers staged a walkabout of the Dewan Rakyat approximately an hour into Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's speech when winding-up the debate on the 2009 Budget this evening.

Speaking to reporters outside the House while Najib continued with his speech on the federal government's economic stimulation package, Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said they protested against Najib's "arrogant manner" in prohibiting them from speaking up during his speech.

Anwar added that the Dewan Rakyat Speaker, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia, had even asked Najib if he would give way for the Opposition leader to rebut his announcements and Najib had stated "no."

"If that is the case, what is the benefit for us to remain inside?" queried Anwar.

The top leaders from the PR coalition further accused Najib, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, of being "dishonest".

"He said the Budget has not been changed, which is untrue. The Budget has been changed," said DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang. "This is misleading the House."

Lim said it was an "unfortunate beginning" for Najib, who had just won the Umno presidency uncontested which is likely see him become the prime minister next March when Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi steps down.

"He is presenting a revised Budget while claiming it is not a revised Budget. He is dishonest," Lim emphasised.

Anwar criticised Najib for his "complete disrespect of procedures of the House." He explained that the opposition faction had been waiting for the past two weeks for Najib to appear with a revised Budget proposal.

The Permatang Pauh MP said the opposition were incensed that they were now given only minutes to discuss the new, amended Budget before approval.

Asked if the House could approve the Budget now without the opposition inside, Anwar replied: "They don't need two-thirds majority, they only need a simple majority."


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