DESPITE the passing of the 2021 Budget in Parliament today, many crucial issues remain unaddressed by the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government and it is for this reason that the opposition MPs unanimously opposed the passing of this bill.The budget is fundamentally flawed in ways that have been extensively debated in Parliament. The Budget reflects the narrow interests of PN government’s own political survival rather than the actual needs and welfare of the rakyat.At the committee level, various opposition MPs raised and sought clarification on issues of utmost importance, such as the withdrawal of Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) savings and the lack of safety net for those without EPF contributions; the high allocation to Community Communications Department (J-Kom) and questionable purposes of the funds; the questionable usage of funds for political machinery; and lack of support for many business owners who are facing dire straits.However, because the PN government has erroneously linked passage of the budget to the functioning of the civil service and payment of salaries. Some MPs who oppose PN may have supported the budget to demonstrate their solidarity with millions of public servants who are equally impacted by the pandemic economy.It is disappointing that MPs who had expressed strong views against certain issues in the budget voted in support of the bill.As a result of its tenuous hold on power, the PN government will continue to use its political influence to preserve its power, often at the expense of the rakyat and the country’s future.We are returning to a period of time when the government disregards acceptable standards of transparency, governance and prudent management of funds. This disturbing trend is highlighted by the recent downgrade by Fitch Ratings.In addition, the World Bank’s governance score for Malaysia has weakened in 2020 and we expect deterioration in other key ratings including corruption perception index and media freedom index. Investor confidence will certainly wane and we will continue to see our neighbours in Asean outpace us in many development and economic indicators.At this pivotal moment in time when the country requires a fundamental rethink in how it emerges from the pandemic stronger and more vibrant, PN has shown itself incapable of the task at hand. The narrow passing of this bill in Parliament will do little to inspire confidence in the PN government. It will simply render it further susceptible to the self-interests of these politicians at the expense of the rakyat. – December 15, 2020.* Anwar Ibrahim is Parti Keadilan Rakyat president. * This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.
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