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Dewan Rakyat passes Perikatan’s maiden Budget 2021 with voice vote

Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) inaugural Budget 2021 was passed in the Dewan Rakyat this evening.

Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun called for a voice vote following Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz’s Budget winding-up speech, with both government and Opposition lawmakers making themselves heard without a clear vocal majority.

Azhar then called for those opposing the Bill to stand up and be counted, with a minimum 15 lawmakers needed to oppose for the voice vote to fail.

He later announced to the Lower House that there were insufficient nayes, as opposed to ayes, with only 13 lawmakers standing up and accounted for.

“Those opposing are less than 15, and there are more voices who agree with the motion; therefore, the motion is passed.

“The Bill will then be tabled at the committee level on Monday,” he said before today’s session was adjourned.

The Budget will now go to the committee stage, for its specific allocations to debated and voted on.

It is not immediately clear who were the lawmakers that stood up to oppose the budget, but pictures posted by politicians on social media showed former prime minister and Parti Pejuang Tanah Air’s Langkawi MP Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and son Jerlum MP Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir.

Also seen standing were several Parti Amanah Negara’s Shah Alam MP Khalid Abdul Samad and Pokok Sena MP Datuk Mahfuz Omar.

This was after the minister was interjected no less than 20 times during his winding up speech, with lawmakers both thanking him for several increased allocations while others questioned the source of funds used for the expanded budget.

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Among the pro-government lawmakers who were vocal include Umno’s Baling MP Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim and Pasir Salak MP Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, who had both interjected the speech either to praise the Finance Minister or interrupt while an opposition MP was speaking.

This passing of the Bill ends over a months long anticipation following its tabling by Tengku Zafrul on November 6, with lawmakers both aligned with PN and the Opposition putting up stern responses to the bill and its allocations.

Among the key takeaways from the minister’s winding up speech was the expansion of those qualified to withdraw from their Employees Retiree Fund (EPF) Account-1, while giving his assurance of the government’s continued engagement with financial institutions as and when aid is required.

Tengku Zafrul also announced increased allocation to Sabah to be used in combating the Covid-19 pandemic, and increased allowances and cash aids to frontliners, the youth, and retired servicemen. ― Malay Mail

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