KLSCAH STATEMENT (April 1, 2021)

The Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) condemns the government’s act of gazetting a new provision of the Emergency Ordinance to give Putrajaya and state governments absolute power to bypass the legislature entirely to approve additional budget.

KLSCAH believes that this move is undoubtedly perverse. Undermining the parliamentary democracy system that our country has been using in disguise, the role of Parliament as the legislature is in vain. It unilaterally increases the amount of operating and developmental expenditures of any country without checks and balances.

A few days ago, the government revised the provisions of the Emergency Ordinance and promulgated the addition of Sections 10A and 10B. These new laws allow the Prime Minister, state and chief ministers to launch supplementary budgets, or use the Federal Consolidated Fund, without review by legislature.

After implementation of the state of Emergency on January 11, the Muhyiddin government announced on January 18 the Perlindungan Ekonomi and Rakyat Malaysia (PERMAI) with a total value of RM15 billion to restore the economy and assist the people in fighting the pandemic. However, a review of the bill and other financial policies were directly bypassed.

In March 2020, the Muhyiddin government also launched a financial aid package costing hundreds of billions of ringgits at the beginning of their administration. It is worth mentioning that although the state of Emergency was not implemented at that time, the Muhyiddin government had skipped prior approval of parliament on public spending.

Furthermore, the federal government debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio has soared to 62.2% at the end of 2020. With high governmentl debt, severe economic growth challenges plus a lack of checks and balances to account for expenditures, KLSCAH questions any additional Budget spending involving developmental and operating expenditures that might not be fair and transparent. Putrajaya and the state governments can bypass parliamentary democratic accountability and have unlimited power to decide all government financial affairs.

KLSCAH is also worried that the government’s series of Budget measures will push the government debt into more uncertainty, especially when public funds cannot be guaranteed of cautious spending. Our country’s volatile stimulus measures and the economy will cause foreign investors to further lose confidence and bring other unfavourable effects. If government debt continues to increase and the government struggles to cope, it will be the people who have been taxed that will suffer in the end.

KLSCAH believes that any supplementary supply bills must be returned to the Dewan Rakyat, and passed through parliamentary procedures to seek approval. Obtaining the support of ruling and opposition MPs in a fair, open and transparent way to ensure that the government will not squander public funds. However, the government has been evasive and refused to convene a Parliament on grounds that most MPs are elderly and at high risk of COVID-19 infection. This is inappropriate and undermines the constitutional spirit of parliamentary democracy and the separation of powers.

Therefore, KLSCAH urges Prime Minister Muhyiddin to decide a date, after the King has publicly declared that Parliament can convene as usual even in a state of Emergency – a date must be promptly decided for a parliament session – so Parliament will restore checks and balances to the country’s fiduciary affairs. Legitimate parliamentary approval of all budgets with additional expenditures is the right way to avoid abuse of power and misappropriation of public funds.



Photo: The Straits Times

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