Likely? Maybe? It has already been passed at the policy stage by a voice vote. Warisan, Pejuang and Muda MPs’ request for a bloc vote — which would have recorded every MP’s vote or whether he/she abstained — was rejected because it failed to get the minimum 15 MPs’ votes needed to allow it.
Pakatan Harapan MPs, bound by the MoU they signed with the Ismail Sabri Yaacob unconstitutional government, did not support the three other opposition parties’ request. That is a pity because a bloc vote would have revealed the actual level of support for Budget 2022. Now, we will never know because the MoU has prevented the gauge of actual support.
Understandably, MPs in the Sabri government who may not be supportive of the race-centric budget did not support the request for a bloc vote. They, too, upheld the pacts their parties made with partners in the government.
As a result, because of the pacts made, MPs have their hands tied up and have failed to follow the norms of parliamentary debate and use the tools available in a parliamentary democracy to vote according to the interests of their constituents.
What checks and balances are there now in the Dewan Rakyat? They have been neutralised by the pacts political parties have made with each other. PH MPs do question the government and express their criticisms but the government continues as it likes. What is evident is that more MPs have become silent.
In the face of a weak Dewan Rakyat, the government continues to function with impunity. This isn’t what we, the people, elected our MPs for.
In this culture of pact-beholden compromised MPs, it is heartening to see Pejuang, Warisan and especially Muda MPs conducting themselves in the way parliamentarians should — as free agents in the Dewan Rakyat.
Muda’s young MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman stands out for supporting the request for bloc voting. Though young, he understands the significance of an MP’s vote and knows how the game should be played according to the rules of the Dewan Rakyat, discerning when to support an initiative and when not to. My hope is that he doesn’t get sucked into the current culture of making pacts to get what the leaders want.
In answer to my headline question, Budget 2022 will likely be passed at the final stage because PH will honour the MoU. Unless, however, the outcome of the state elections in Malacca tomorrow favours PH and it forms the state government.
If PH wins, it might reject the budget — on the confidence that the people may be willing to vote for it — and trigger the process to form a majority coalition in the Dewan Rakyat or be prepared for a general election, following a defeated budget.
PH got a helping hand from Pejuang chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who exposed former premier Najib Razak’s request for a piece of free land — under an Act that offers such gifts to former prime ministers — in the Dewan Rakyat. Najib has been convicted and found guilty of corruption charges. Until the Appeals Court rejects the High Court decision, he is considered guilty and Mahathir questioned why the current Cabinet was considering such a request from a convicted premier.
That expose might cost Umno candidates some votes that might benefit PH. We will have to wait to see the results of tomorrow’s election to know for sure. My inclination is for PH to win because it is the logical best choice for Malacca.
Whether PH wins or loses tomorrow’s elections, it is hoped that the coalition will initiate or support a request for bloc voting when Budget 2022 is presented for final reading.
It’s the people’s right to know how their elected MPs voted with regard to the budget that will affect every citizen. No pact or deal should deprive the people of that right.