Zafrul’s 2021 Budget is a great disappointment and a major let-down – as it is an unprecedented opportunity lost as there were no flashes of imagination, inspiration or creativity to create an united and great Malaysia
The Finance Minister, Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz’s 2021 Budget is a great disappointment and a major let-down – as it was an unprecedented opportunity lost as there were no flashes of imagination, inspiration or creativity to create a united and great Malaysia.
It was ironic and very foreboding that the Budget 2021, designed to fight the third wave of Covid-19 pandemic, was presented on the day when Covid-19 cases soared to a new record of 1,755 cases, with 1,199 cases in Sabah alone.
It is particularly heart-rending that the 2021 Budget had slashed billions of ringgit for curative care and public health, including deep cuts for cancer and kidney diseases with the former cut by 10 times.
This is totally against the recent advice and warning by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to all countries in the world to prepare for the next pandemic.
WHO had called on the global health community to ensure that all countries are better equipped to detect and respond to cases of Covid-19 and other dangerous infectious diseases.
WHO warned that countries must not backslide on critical health goals and stressed that the Covid-19 pandemic is a sobering reminder that health is the foundation of social, economic and political stability.
The third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic must be fought with all available resources, but it must not be at the cost of critical health goals for Malaysia.
The Finance Minister should immediately restore the deep cuts in the budgetary proposals for curative care and public health.
The 2021 Budget has failed most conspicuously as a Unity Budget and the caustic comment of former top civil servant, Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam was most valid and justified when he said that it was not healthy in promoting national unity to have separate allocations for the Chinese and the Indians. Ramon said: “The poor are the poor. The ones who are miserable regardless of race should be helped”.
Ramon’s further comment is not only an indictment of the failure of the 2021 Budget as a Unity budget, but an indictment on the failure of Malaysian nation-building in the past six decades.
Raman had remarked: “There are allowances for the Imam. What about Buddhist, Hindu and Christian priests. This again will cause disunity.”
The 2021 Budget presented in Parliament yesterday should be recast to ensure that it fulfils the target of being a Malaysian Unity Budget, particularly at a trying time when the country is fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.