Media Statement by MP for Iskandar Puteri, Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on 8 December 2020:
Parliamentary calendar should be adjusted to allow for a motion of confidence as a result of Fitch Ratings downgrade to be debated before the 2021 Budget is voted on December 16
The call by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) presidential council for a confidence motion on the Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, following the Fitch Ratings downgrade on Malaysia’s sovereign credit rating should be supported by all Members of Parliament, including from the Perikatan Nasional government MPs.
The Fitch Ratings downgrade cannot be simply ignored by the government and Parliament as the credibility and legitimacy of Muhyiddin as the eighth Prime Minister and his jumbo-sized Cabinet are at stake and they can only be secured whether by a confidence or no-confidence motion, so that the appellation of the Muhyiddin government as a “backdoor” government can be put to rest.
It will be most unfortunate if after 10 months in power, the Muhyiddin government still dare not allow a confidence or no-confidence motion to be tabled and voted on in Parliament. How long more must Malaysians wait?
Kenyataan media Majlis Presiden Pakatan Harapan hari iniPosted by Pakatan Harapan on Monday, 7 December 2020
A debate and vote on confidence or no-confidence motion is all the more necessary as the Fitch Ratings downgrade comes about one month after the presentation of the 2021 Budget to Parliament by the Finance Minister, Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz and is as good as an international vote of no confidence in the 2021 Budget.
Let me ask Muhyiddin why he is so afraid of a confidence motion in Parliament and whether he fears that what happened in the Perak State Assembly last Friday where a confidence motion ended up in the ouster of the Perak Mentri Besar may repeated in Parliament and result in his own ouster as Prime Minister?
Is Muhyiddin’s hold as the eighth Prime Minister so fragile and ephemeral – that after an international vote of no confidence in the Fitch Ratings downgrade, he dared not face a confidence or no-confidence motion in Parliament to redeem himself?
I call for the parliamentary calendar to be adjusted to allow for a confidence or no-confidence motion as a result of Fitch Ratings downgrade to be debated before the final and Third Reading of the 2021 Budget is voted on December 16.
How the parliamentary calendar is to be adjusted to allow for a confidence or no-confidence motion to be tabled and voted on before the final and third reading of the 2021 Budget is be left to both Government and Opposition representatives to work out.
We should not be slavish to the perspectives of rating agencies, as Malaysia and the world are facing “once-in-a-century” Covid-19 pandemic, which has grown increasingly worse despite a year of rampage, claiming nearly 68 million infections and over 1.5 million deaths. The coming months are expected to be worse despite fast work on the development of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Malaysia is facing a serious Covid-19 pandemic third wave as a result of the Sabah state general elections, recording 1,600 Covid-19 cases yesterday/
We are poised to overtake China in the total cumulative of Covid-19 cases before the end of the current parliamentary meeting in the second half of December – which is a shocker as China has a population of 1.4 billion compared to Malaysia’s 32 million
We should have an extraordinary budget in extraordinary times, but unfortunately Tengku Zafrul’s budget is a very ordinary budget in extraordinary times.
While we must be prepared to do extraordinary things in extraordinary times to help vulnerable groups, as well-known Malaysian economist K.S. Jomo has rightly reminded the government, it is no excuse for corruption or abuses of power.
Malaysian economists like Terence Gomez have also warned that Malaysia is squandering the opportunity to restructure the economy to redress the inherent structural imbalances.
Valid and credible criticisms in the Fitch Report should be addressed.
Malaysia must dare to launch long overdue reforms e.g. fiscal consolidation, greater transparency and accountability.
Between the lines of the Fitch Report, one can discern a sharp message that questions the 2021 Budget strategy e.g. the issue of “stimulus“ without reforms or spending your way out of trouble.
The direct implications linked with the downgrade are a) it will affect the cost of borrowing by the government of Malaysia; b) potential investors, both foreign and domestic, will think twice about investing in Malaysia.
We are heading for a bleak outlook with powerful market forces unleashed.
It is noteworthy that while other rating agencies may follow Fitch Rating in the downgrade, there do not appear to be downgrades thus far for other ASEAN countries.
Is Muhyiddin’s kakistocracy capable of much-need painful reforms?
These will be questions that will be raised and debated in a confidence or no-confidence motion as a result of the Fitch Ratings downgrade.
Lim Kit Siang
MP for Iskandar Puteri