Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Thursday, 6th
November 2008 at 11 am:
Najib should rectify the parliamentary faux
pas in not amending the 2009 Budget motion to incorporate the
supplementary RM7 billion economic stimulus package so that Government
and Parliament will not continue to be laughing-stocks in parliamentary
Yesterday, the Speaker, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin
Mulia made the ruling that Parliament was debating the Abdullah budget
presented on August 29, 2008 and not the Najib Budget of an additional
RM7 billion economic stimulus package announced during the 2009 Budget
winding-up debate on Tuesday, as no changes to the Abdullah Budget had
been tabled in the House.
The Speaker is right as MPs could not possibly be debating a revised
2009 Budget incorporating an additional RM7 billion economic stimulus
package, when neither the details of the supplementary RM7 billion
package have been tabled in the House nor an amendment to the 2009
Budget proposed in Parliament.
The trouble with such an interpretation is that MPs would have to live
the fiction of pretending that the RM7 billion economic stimulus package
announced by Deputy Prime Minister and the new Finance Minister, Datuk
Seri Najib Razak, in his speech winding-up the2009 Budget policy debate
had disappeared into thin air within 24 hours and does not exist!
In fact, the nation and Malaysians are being asked to join in his
fiction, if Najib persists with this unprecedented solution to the
parliamentary faux pax he had committed in failing to follow the correct
parliamentary procedure of submitting a proper parliamentary amendment
to the 2009 Budget incorporating the new RM7 billion economic stimulus
This was why I had likened Najib to the illusionist David Copperfield
yesterday when the Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah,
responded to my query in Parliament and explained that the RM7 billion
economic stimulus package announced by Najib on Tuesday was a
hypothetical one, as it depended on savings made from the downturn in
global fuel prices, and what the government will do with RM7 billion
when the situation arises.
I agree with Najib when he announced the RM7 billion package on Tuesday
that “extraordinary times require extraordinary measures”, like amending
the 2009 Budget with an additional RM7 billion economic package in the
face of the worst world economic crisis in 80 years because of the
global financial meltdown – but this is no justification in breaking all
parliamentary rules and procedures by one day presenting a RM7 billion
economic stimulus package and claiming in the next 24 hours that it is
just a hypothetical proposal!
Isn’t the entire 2009 Budget of RM207 billion, made up of RM154 billion
operating estimates and RM53.7 billion development estimates equally
“hypothetical” as being based on on a whole architecture of assumptions
about revenues and expenditures which only time can tell whether they
will come true?
If so, why then is Parliament debating and passing a “hypothetical” 2009
Budget but is not required to debate and pass a “hypothetical”
supplement to the 2009 Budget in the form of the additional RM7 billion
economic stimulus package?
This is not a good start for Najib as the new Finance Minister and
five-month Prime Minister-in-waiting, as this is not the way a
responsible Finance Minister should conducted himself – telling
Parliament and nation one thing and saying a completely different thing
24 hours later.
Najib never qualified his announcement on Tuesday that his RM7 billion
economic stimulus package was a hypothetical one.
Instead, he wanted Parliament and the nation to take his RM7 billion
economic stimulus package seriously, and this was why there was a
two-week build-up of an important announcement he would be making in
Parliament on Nov. 4.
All the media, whether television, radio or newspapers, treated his RM7
billion package as his important first test as the new Finance Minister
and not just as a flight of imagination, with all front-page newspaper
headlines yesterday like “RM7b KICK-START – Government responds to
global financial crisis” (New Straits Times), “RM7 bil spending – Najib
unveils plans to ensure continued growth of economy” (Star), “$PEND, $PEND,
$PEND” (Sun), “RM7b rangsang ekonomi” (Utusan Malaysia) and “Dana RM7b
rangsang ekonomi – Penjimatan subsidi minyak jana pertumbuhan negara” (Berita
Are all these just mirages in the desert?
Najib came to Parliament on Tuesday like Santa Claus before Christmas
announcing a whole litany of goodies from the RM7 billion economic
stimulus package, including
• RM1.2 billion allocations for the
construction of 15,000 low-cost and medium-cost houses.
• RM500 million to refurbish police stations and police quarters, as
well as army camps and their living quarters.
• RM600 million for small projects under the Public Infrastructure
Maintenance (PIAS) for repairing village roads, building of
community halls and small bridges.
• RM500 million for the preservation and repair of public amenities
such as schools, hospitals and roads.
• RM500 million for upgrading and construction of rural roads and
• RM200 million to four groups of schools.
RM50 million each for fully-aided religious schools, mission
schools, Chinese schools and Tamil schools.
• RM300 million for creation of funds and to implement skills
training programmes in the Development Corridors.
• RM500 million to strengthen the public
transport especially the LRT, Komuter and bus systems in urban
• RM1.5 billion ringgit as investment funds to attract more private
• RM400 million to expedite the high-speed broadband project
• RM200 million to build human capital
through various training programmes by various ministries.
• RM100 million for Rakan Muda projects.
• RM200 million to revitalise abandoned housing projects.
• RM200 million for early education for kids.
After raising high hopes from the
beneficiaries of the RM7 billion economic stimulus package, is Najib now
pouring “cold water” by suggesting that the various allocations
announced by him in Parliament on Tuesday are tentative, hypothetical
and not meant to be taken seriously?
Parliament and the Barisan Nasional would forfeit all public respect if
this be the case.
Najib had committed a grave parliamentary faux pax in not following the
proper parliamentary procedure in his first parliamentary outing. He
should be man enough to admit his mistake and rectify it and not
compound it by claiming that his RM7 billion economic stimulus package
is a mere fiction and need not be debated and approved in Parliament.
Then why announce it in Parliament in the first place?
DAP and Pakatan Rakyat MPs are prepared to co-operate with the Barisan
Nasional government in the interests of the people and country and we
are ready to work with Najib to rectify his parliamentary faux pax.
But he must have the humility and decency to admit his parliamentary
faux pas or there will be no way to rectify it.
One solution is for Najib to introduce a motion to amend the 2009 Budget
to incorporate the RM7 billion economic stimulus package he announced on
Tuesday, so that MPs could debate on both the Abdullah Budget presented
on August 29 as well as the RM7 billion supplementary Najib Budget
announced on Tuesday.
It is a great disservice to Parliament as well as a most adverse
reflection on him if Najib persists in wanting MPs to live a fiction
that the RM7 billion economic stimulus package does not exist and need
not be debated.
This is the first test of Najib’s quality of leadership five months
before he becomes the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia next March.
Kit Siang, DAP
Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor