'Cowardly' Najib & Cabinet try to head off Budget criticism with 'DISAPPEARING ACT'
"Lazy" and "cowardly" were among the unflattering terms Najib and team
received from the Malaysian public on Monday. The Prime Minister, who
had last week unveiled a controversial and much-panned budget for 2013,
was nowhere to be seen in Parliament.
Neither was his deputy nor other senior members of the Cabinet, perhaps
knowing they would have to face up to a tough Q&A session from
Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim and his Pakatan Rakyat coalition.
"The tradition is during the debate is for the Finance minister (Najib) to be here. But when I invite him to debate, he doesn't dare. Now, even in Parliament, he doesn’t dare show up,” Anwar, a former Finance minister, ticked them off in Parliament.
lets his backbenchers defend (the budget) but they have never been in
the Cabinet. They don't know the figures and can only depend on the
Departments of Statistics. The finance minister should give them some
notes next time.”
Separation of powers: CEO should not also be CFO
Razak, who is also Finance minister, was forced to unveiled a smaller
than expected spending plan of RM249.7 bil, down 1.1% versus the
previous year. Nonetheless,
disregarding the clear signs of a shrinking trend in revenues due
mainly to not having made sufficient productive investments in the past,
massive loss of funds from corruption and leakages, Najib did not
hesitate to unleash a host of short-term one-off election goodies to win
the hearts and minds of voters.
country's 13th general election must be held by June 2013 and Najib is
expected to dissolve Parliament within the next few months. Hence, the
center piece of his Budget 2013 was a slew of cash handouts totaling at
least RM3bil to families earning RM3,000 per month and a 1.5 month bonus
to some 1.4 million civil servants.
Glaringly missing were macro-economic solutions to reform
the fast-deteriorating economy. Since taking over the PM's job in 2009,
Najib has put political survival ahead of tough decisions critical to
reform Malaysia's critically-ill socio-economic landscape.
Anwar took Najib to task over these issues. He also called on the PM to
explain why were women, especially housewives, left out of the Budget
when Najib was also the Women's minister and had a duty to look after
Anwar also called for the separation of duties with the Finance
minister's portfolio assigned to another individual other than the PM so
as to avoid conflict of interest issues. The Chief Executive Office should not also grab the Chief Financial Officer's post, he said.
Speaker cuts short Anwar's speaking time
to say, there was no one of authority to take Anwar's questions. If
Najib and his Cabinet had hoped that by snubbing Anwar and the federal
Opposition, they could quell criticism over the Budget, they are likely
to be wrong.
The situation for the BN worsened until the Speaker of the House was
forced to cut short Anwar's Budget rebuttal, a move unprecedented in
Malaysian parliamentary history. The move to limit Anwar's speaking time
underscores Najib's nervousness over his Budget 2013 package - which
many pundits have said was his last political 'bullet' to win GE13.
"It has backfired. People are already suspicious of Najib's Budget 2013.
Everyone is calling it an Election Budget with nothing of substance to
cure the economic ills. By not daring to come to Parliament and face up
to the Opposition, they only prove they are cowards and there is
something wrong that they cannot answer to and therefore have to hide.
The facts are simply that they have run of out funds, ideas and
solutions for Malaysia," PKR MP for Gopeng Lee Boon Chye told Malaysia Chronicle.
Backbenchers fail to 'protect' Najib's last bullet for GE13
Only backbenchers such as MP for Kota Belud Abdul Rahman Dahlan and
Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin were left to hold the fort on Monday.
Abdul Rahman immediately got off on the wrong foot by insisting that the
federal government was providing more money to all the states led by
the Pakatan Rakyat than the revenue they collected themselves.
"You can question the numbers, but this is what the Department of Statistics is giving," Abdul Rahman said in his intervention.
Anwar minced no words in his reply that the statistics could easily be 'manipulated to lie'.
"It is not true to say that Selangor's revenue is less than its budget.
It does not make economic sense. Where do you get the money?" asked
Anwar, to which the Kota Belud MP had no reply.