October 25 TMI — THE Perikatan Nasional government has mooted a confidence and supply agreement with opposition lawmakers to support Budget 2021, said sources, even as it tries to secure the king’s consent to declare a state of emergency.

Sources said negotiations are ongoing with several MPs in the opposition to support the government in the crucial sitting next month. 

The Muhyiddin Yassin government is pushing for emergency powers, which could see parliament suspended if it succeeds. But in the event Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah fails to give his consent for an emergency to be declared, PN would need the support of the opposition to retain power in the house.

The Conference of Malay Rulers will meet today to decide on Muhyiddin’s proposal.

A source said the plan was to sell the budget to the MPs as a “unity budget” to “fight the Covid-19 pandemic”. 

A confidence and supply agreement is an arrangement in a hung parliament in which an opposition party agrees not to vote against a minority government in votes of confidence or budgetary matters but reserves the right to oppose other legislation

An opposition source said a deal under discussion was equal funding for all the constituencies.

“Among the suggestions was to increase the parliamentary allocations as the opposition MPs are getting far less than the PN ones,” the source said. 

DAP, Amanah and Warisan have been approached for a deal. 

DAP Senator Liew Chin Tong said Muhyiddin had the option of pursuing a supply and confidence deal instead of emergency powers.

“There are actually tools for the government to function properly in a parliamentary democracy.

“Even if you do not have a majority, one can still rule as a minority government with ‘confidence and supply’ agreements with opposition parties,” said Liew on his blog yesterday.

The former Kluang MP said the government could barter for support for its budget bill in exchange for certain considerations.

Former youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman wrote a lengthy article on why such an arrangement was pertinent at this point in time.

“The basis of this confidence and supply bill is to benefit the people. To implement policies well, there needs to be give and take for the benefit of the people.

“This is no easy route, this is no call to accept the government of the day or to agree with its workings and functions. But this country is facing something it has never faced before, which is handling Covid-19 which has destroyed every layer of society,” he wrote in an article published on Malaysiakini.

The Muar MP urged for funding to be given distributed equally among the lawmakers in exchange for their agreement to the deal. Other conditions are to hold off the general election during the pandemic and a bi-partisan select committee to pass important bills. 

The tricky part is to get the parties to support the deal en bloc. 

A PN source said this was a challenge as parties in Malaysia were usually led by the party whip.

“We are not sure how this effort will be a success as our parliament uses the whip system. We are not sure how it will be possible for the opposition politicians to agree on the budget as it would be viewed as crossing the floor,” the source said.


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