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16 theSun | THURSDAY DECEMBER 11 2008

INTERVIEWS VIEWS

» From Page 15 sion, our point was proved to be correct – when changes. Or, alternatively, make a separate year you must spend more than what you
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul motion whereby you submit a motion with spent the previous year. That’s not the correct
The so-called new culture of this 12th Parlia- Razak (on Nov 4) presented a new set of figures all the explanations and figures and where definition.
ment also includes walkouts by opposition (for the 2009 Budget). That was just not right. He the adjustments were made. If he had done So, when we (Pakatan) reduced the
MPs. So far, there have been four or five should not have done it. So, when he started his that, we would be discussing the actual revenue (in its budget proposal), we were
walkouts? speech and it was indicated that he was going budget that they intend to implement, not being realistic. He (Najib) also admitted that
I don’t think so. As far as I can remember, there to present new packages and ways of reviving the budget prepared in August which we all our revenue was going to be reduced but
were only three (walkouts). the economy, these were not in the (original) know was not the real thing. But we were he said you (Pakatan) reduced it by RM24
Budget. How could we allow that? And the fact forced to debate it. billion, so your budget is contracting. I can’t
It is almost predictable when the opposition that when we came in the next day, we protested agree even with his definition of expansion-
MPs will stage a walkout. And another new and the Speaker finally confirmed the budget on And in the end, the Aug 29 budget was the ary budget. I am not an economist but that’s
culture, some said, is the tendency to quote the table was the one presented on Aug 29. So that one the MPs had to debate. what I understand. We are less expansionary
irrelevant points of order just to get attention proves our argument. In fact, what Najib said was Yes. That was the one which had been because we don’t have a higher deficit. They
or be given a chance to speak. What’s your irrelevant and procedurally incorrect. approved, not the one tabled by Najib. But, (BN) got a 4.8% deficit, we got a 3% deficit.
comment? We had informed them of what they should I think later he will have to come out with a But, a deficit is not something you can be
When we stage a walkout, there is a good reason. have done. There were two options. One was to supplementary budget, and all the motions proud of. You are forced to have more deficit
We don’t do it just for the sake of sensational correct or amend the budget at the beginning, to readjust, and that sort of thing. Basically, because you don’t have enough revenue, you
news. I can’t remember the rest but on one occa- because at that time, we all knew, there were it is all because they were stubborn and un- want to have a higher expenditure so that
receptive to the ideas and statements of the you can invest or stimulate the economy or
Opposition. you do some borrowing. But then, that’s not
something that is a be-all good budget.
But Najib had said during his winding-
up that at a later point in his speech he Back to the walkout, so, can we say it was
would allow questions from the MPs. Why done as a matter of principle?
didn’t you wait and get a chance to ask The Speaker’s action on (Batu MP) Tian Chua
questions? (by asking him to leave the Dewan when he
Yeah. But at that time, what were the points tried to interject) was one factor.
raised? After that, there would be many
(points made) as he went on. I mean the walkout in
It also doesn’t change the general.
fact that what he was saying When we feel the issue is
was irrelevant because he did important enough, we will make
not present it in an official and a point that we disagree (by
proper manner. staging a walkout).
So, it could not be incor-
porated into the budget that Some said that opposition MPs
was already presented and had to walk out because you
tabled. He has to come up with would lose should you call for
a special motion. So even if division voting. So, you staged
we stayed on and debated his the walkout to make your
speech, it wouldn’t change the point?
status. And, we would have The way the system operates
just come and said the same now, if we vote, we will surely
thing. What is this? Is this part lose. Even if those in BN agree
of the budget or not? You were with us, they are not allowed
supposed to present the budget, to vote according to their
why are you coming up with conscience. That is inevitable.
this? You were supposed to respond to the The whip will ensure that everybody votes
questions we raised. Last time, we were according to party line. But to say that
asked to discuss based on the budget, and our because we can’t win, therefore we walked
criticisms of the budget that was presented. out, that’s not quite right.
But even if we commented on that budget, We were very upset about the way the
you were supposed to respond to that, not presentation was done; the fact that the con-
come up with a new proposal. tents (of the budget speech by Najib) were
irregular; the fact that Najib didn’t allow us
But towards the end he said he would to ask questions; the fact that the speaker also
answer all your questions. came down hard on Tian Chua. We were
Okay. Number one, they were not correct only trying to make our point, which, in the
procedurally. Number two, we don’t want end, was proven correct. If they had listened
this to act as a precedent. In the past, all to us when we opposed it, we would now be
the ministers allowed for interruptions and debating the actual budget which includes
questioning as they presented what they the RM7 billion, instead of debating a budget
have. He had asked all the ministers before which everybody knows is not the real thing.
him to do the same. Now why does he have We are wasting our time.
this special arrangement whereby he talks Why didn’t the government, right from
and everybody listens and can only question the beginning as per our first objection, do
later? the responsible thing? Get the real figures
on the table, then we would have been able
But, at the committee stage, the MPs would to debate. That would have been better. The
still have to debate the budget tabled in only answer that I can think of is, perhaps
August. they didn’t know how to handle it. That’s
Yes, we still have to debate it. But, it amazed why they have to wait for us to come up with
me, I don’t know what the BN MPs had passed our budget and then take from it to make the
in the first place (at policy stage, without DPM’s speech. In fact, we also wanted to cut
the presence of PR MPs). I’m not sure they our spending on subsidies but we wanted to
understood what they had approved until the do that by negotiating with the IPPs (inde-
Speaker made the clarification. pendent power producers), not by reducing
from the petrol subsidy. If we were the federal
So the part about Najib being procedurally government, we would do this.
wrong had already been pointed out by the They (BN) are taking out the RM7 bil-
Opposition from the beginning? lion from the petrol subsidy which they are
Yes. That was the point that we had objected taking away from the rakyat. Instead, what
to. Another thing is, for us, it is a question of we have in mind is, we want to take away
respecting the other MPs. You should allow the subsidies from the IPPs by renegotiat-
us to interject while you speak. That way we ing with them. They are making tonnes of
can tackle the matter point by point. money. There is no reason why we should
If he (Najib) only allocates the end of subsidise them anymore. There must be a
the speech for others to ask questions, he realistic and reasonable basis to subsidise the
can simply read everything quickly and IPPs. For example, if they are losing money,
then say he has finished. But if it is allowed if they are not making sufficient profits to
during the speech, there is more pressure for cover their investments – not when they are
him to answer. To me, it also reflects on his making tonnes of money. So, I venture to say,
confidence. probably they (BN) wanted to see how we
He could not handle the situation. You (Pakatan) wanted to handle this and they just
see, when he used terms like expansion- incorporated some of our suggestions, the
ary budget and described Pakatan’s budget social safety net, the retrenchment and all
as a contractionary budget. It’s not true. I those things.
mean, what’s your definition of expansion-
ary budget? It does not mean last year you So, that’s how you see it?
spent RM200 billion and this year you spend Yes, because that’s the only thing that can
RM210 billion. That’s not the definition of explain why they never did anything (to
expansionary budget. It’s more about the way adjust the budget).
you are trying to expand the economy. So,
there might be a good year like what hap- You mentioned conscience and party
pened last year when the oil prices went up, line. Do you think party members should
so, we had extraordinary income and can
spend a bit more. But that does not mean next » Turn to Page 18