PETALING JAYA,nov 10: Political analysts say the ball is now in the government’s court to see that the 2021 budget is passed, as opposition members have so far said that they are willing to support the budget but with amendments to the Supply Bill.

Sivamurugan Pandian of Universiti Sains Malaysia said both sides of the aisle should discuss the amendments.

Based on the first day of debates at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, he said, opposition MPs are likely to agree to support the bill but with changes.

“MPs may want to avoid being labelled as going against the King,” he said, referring to the advice of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for MPs to support the budget while the nation fights the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sivamurugan said the opposition may abstain from voting if the amendments are not made. He said the government had nothing to lose if they accepted the opposition demands.

Opposition MPs have called for a moratorium on loan repayments to be extended for six more months as companies continue to suffer a slowdown in business because of movement restrictions. The opposition has also asked for more Employees Provident Fund contributors to be allowed to make withdrawals from their Account 1 pension fund.

“If the government can make the amendments as the opposition wants, the budget is likely to be passed with a bigger majority,” Sivamurugan said.

Awang Azman Pawi of Universiti Malaya agreed. “If the views of the opposition are taken into account, the budget will be passed,” he told FMT, referring to fears raised last month that the Supply Bill may not receive enough support from MPs who favour holding fresh elections.

Failure to pass the Supply Bill will result in the automatic collapse of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s government, which has a slim majority in the Dewan Rakyat.

Awang Azman said the government should listen to suggestions given by the MPs.

James Chin of the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute said the number of those abstaining from the budget vote may be higher this year.

The budget debate began yesterday and is expected to continue for the next three weeks.

Yesterday, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said the budget may not be easily passed unless amendments are made.


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