KUALA LUMPUR, 5 Nov 2008: The Dewan Rakyat adjourned proceedings for 45 minutes today to ease tension in the house after several opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) raised questions, claiming confusion over whether Budget 2009 tabled on 29 Aug or the RM7-billion stimulus package introduced yesterday was approved for second reading.
Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timur), after rising to debate the budget at the committee stage, asked why the stimulus package introduced by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak when winding up debate on the Supply Bill 2009 was not included in Budget 2009.
He said it was unusual that Najib’s proposals were not found in the budget tabled by then finance minister, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Abdullah had tabled a RM207.9 billion budget on 29 Aug.
“Every sen has to be approved in Parliament but this matter (the stimulus package) has not been brought before us,” Lim said.
Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (Parti Keadilan Rakyat-Permatang Pauh) interjected and asked the house to distribute the contents of the stimulus package for debate.
“Which figure do we use for the debate at the committee stage?” he asked.
Anwar told a news conference outside the house later that Najib had violated parliamentary procedure by not giving a two-day notice on the amendment to the budget, and asked which “budget” had been approved for second reading.
“The speaker said the budget tabled by Najib was approved but this contravenes procedure because the budget tabled by Najib had not been distributed and, as such, there are differences in the allocations for agriculture and education,” he said.
Earlier, in the house, Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar explained that he could not instruct the withdrawal of what had been announced.
“The finance minister (Najib) addressed the house yesterday and, unfortunately, the opposition MPs had walked out then,” he said.
Opposition MPs walked out en bloc after Tian Chua (PKR-Batu) was barred from the house when Najib was giving his winding-up speech. Anwar had said then that it was meaningless for them to remain in the house when Najib presented a new budget but denied the fact.
Wan Junaidi’s explanation was not accepted by the opposition MPs, who asked for an adjournment of proceedings to seek clarification from the government on the injection of the RM7 billion into the budget.
“If Budget 2009 has been approved for second reading, then we can debate the figure in this (Budget 2009) document. If the stimulus package was approved, then we have to postpone and get the new figure,” said Khalid Abdul Samad (PAS-Shah Alam).
Wan Junaidi then decided to postpone the proceedings at 12.15 pm. The house usually breaks for lunch from 1 pm to 2.30 pm.
He said Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia would preside over the proceedings when they resume at 2.30 pm. — Bernama