Thursday, March 4, 2021

Putrajaya in talks with all parties to ensure budget passed

Umno is said to have reaffirmed its support for the budget after speculation that several MPs could vote it down.

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The Perikatan Nasional (PN) government has been in talks with parties from both sides of the divide to ensure that the 2021 budget is passed, ahead of MPs’ vote on the bill in the Dewan Rakyat on Nov 26, MalaysiaNow has learnt.

This comes amid speculation that several MPs from Umno who are facing corruption charges may turn their backs on PN by voting down the budget.

But a source familiar with the talks said Umno reaffirmed its support for the budget after its president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi came under pressure from party leaders over his leaning towards PKR chief Anwar Ibrahim.

MalaysiaNow earlier revealed the contents of a letter to the palace by Zahid and his former boss Najib Razak, expressing support for Anwar to replace Muhyiddin Yassin as prime minister.

Meanwhile, it is understood that MPs from Umno and PAS reached an agreement to support the budget bill following a meeting between party leaders on Tuesday.

There have also been talks with Warisan and Pejuang, the two other opposition blocs outside of Pakistan Harapan.

“We are positive that the 2021 budget will be approved and that all parties can focus on the war against Covid-19,” said a source from PAS.

Earlier this week, Barisan Nasional secretary-general Annuar Musa proposed what he called a “grand coalition” to unite political affiliations beyond the three Malay-based parties of Umno, Bersatu and PAS.

There have been fears that the budget could be defeated, causing the collapse of the government and triggering pandemic-season snap polls which health authorities have warned against.

“We are positive that the 2021 budget will be approved and that all parties can focus on the war against Covid-19.”

Yesterday, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong invoked his constitutional powers to declare a state of emergency in Batu Sapi, Sabah, effectively cancelling a by-election scheduled there on Dec 5.

“With this declaration, all proceedings geared towards the Batu Sapi by-election will be discontinued in order to stop and prevent a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections, and a new date will be fixed for the by-election,” Istana Negara said in a statement.

The deaths of Batu Sapi MP Liew Vui Keong of Warisan in October and Gerik MP Hasbullah Osman of Umno this week mean one less vote in the Dewan Rakyat for both the opposition and the ruling bloc.

In July, a government motion to appoint a new Dewan Rakyat speaker scraped through with 111 votes against 109 who voted against. Deputy speaker Rashid Hasnon who presided over the session did not vote while one MP was absent.

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