Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s debut Budget 2010 was nearly scuttled by the Pakatan Rakyat late last night when it barely got through by a 66-63 vote margin at the third reading in the Dewan Rakyat. Najib and Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat saved Barisan Nasional the blushes when they turned up to tilt support to the ruling coalition which lost its customary two-third parliamentary majority in Election 2008. It is understood that this is the first time that the national budget was approved with such a narrow margin, where a rejection would have a negative implication for the Barisan Nasional government which has been in power since independence in 1957 when it was called the Alliance.
Parliamentary democracy practices consider a rejected budget as a no-confidence move towards a sitting government and indirectly opens the way for the formation of a new government. Several Pakatan Rakyat leaders, including Parliamentary Opposition chief Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, crowed about their near success in a rapid sequence of tweets. They considered the vote a “major success” to nearly defeat Barisan Nasional in rejecting the Budget. The Malaysian Insider understands that the top leadership in the rival blocs have directed for strict action against their lawmakers who were missing in last night’s vote. The Dewan Rakyat has had extended its sessions in the past few weeks to finish its business by this Thursday before it takes the year-end recess.
Before the crucial third reading, the Budget was approved with just one vote at the committee-stage debate for the Home Ministry - which was the last ministry to have its allocation approved. Pakatan had considered a similar move to derail the Budget 2009 during debates last year after Anwar’s “Sept 16” project to take over Putrajaya failed. But that too came to naught. However, they nearly succeeded to bloody Barisan Nasional’s nose for a second time in as many years with the Budget 2010, even forcing Najib to rush back to Parliament to cast his vote from the Chong Hwa Independent School’s 95th anniversary celebrations. He was accompanied from the dinner by Ong and also Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department who cannot vote as he is a senator.
Barisan Nasional has 137 of the 222 seats in the Dewan Rakyat, followed by Pakatan Rakyat’s 82 and three independents. The Dewan Rakyat ended its annual Budget session at 11.15pm after the third reading concluded. Najib had tabled the Budget 2010 worth RM191.5 billion on Oct 23 with three strategic thrusts of moving the nation to a high-income economy, ensuring a holistic development and prioritising the people’s wellbeing.It was his first Budget as Prime Minister and themed 1 Malaysia, Prosperity for All that allocated RM138.3 bilion or 72.2 per cent for operational expenditure and RM53.2 billion or 27.8 per cent for development expenditure. The Budget 2010 was 11.2 per cent lower than the RM215.7 billion Budget 2009, which was aided later by two economic stimulus packages.
Kubang Kerian MP Salahuddin Ayub commented that Pakatan Rakyat has flexed its muscles in the key Budget vote. “Our prsence was felt... We have shown an important indicator tonight,” the PAS vice-president told The Malaysian Insider after the vote last night. “The one-majority vote at the committee stage and three votes at the third reading has given us the confidence that we can do something significant in Parliament... that Pakatan Rakyat can be a serious alternative “According to House of Commons practices, rejecting the Budget would mean a no-confidence vote against the government of the day,” he added.
It is understood the government bench realised its peril after DAP Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng asked for a vote by division after Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wira Abu Seman Yusop wound up the debate at the committee stage. Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia acceded to the request and the vote went 64-63 in Barisan Nasional’s favour. The situaton recurred during the vote at the end of the Budget’s third reading when DAP Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran asked for a vote by division. By this time, Najib and Ong had taken their seats and the Budget 2010 was approved with 66 votes for and 63 votes against.
Me: Im very sad about that. where are those PR members? should be 82 vs 63 and PR will be the rural party. hahaha.