Bersih decries Opposition funding shutout in Budget 2023

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 25 — The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) today criticised the absence of equal constituency development funds (CDF) for all MPs in Budget 2023, which was promised in the Pakatan Harapan election manifesto.

The group’s steering committee said it was regretful that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim spurned the opportunity to demonstrate his reformist credentials and showcase the ideals of his Malaysia Madani concept.

It then urged the government and the Opposition to collaborate on legislation that would ensure equal CDF for all lawmakers in the future.

“Perikatan Nasional (PN) with 74 MPs represents 4,666,529 voters or 30 percent of those who voted in GE15. Withholding CDF is to disrespect their choice and right to vote for their preferred representative. CDF are needed by MPs to better serve their constituents and plug any local development needs not covered by state or federal programmes. It also includes a portion for the running of the constituency service centres.

“Based on what is given to the 148 MPs aligned with the Unity Government, RM1.3 million annually each, it would have cost an additional RM96.2 million or only 0.024 percent of the RM386 billion budget. This is a paltry amount in comparison to the massive goodwill it would have generated,” the Bersih steering committee said in a statement today.

Noting that parties in the government and Opposition have both, at one time or another, experienced the deprival of equal funding for their lawmakers, Bersih said this should motivate the two sides to reach an agreement ending the practice.

Bersih said equal CDF should be enshrined in a law that would clearly specify the funds for each lawmaker, instead of leaving such matters entirely to the PM’s discretion.

“If Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim does not take the first move, Parliamentary Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin should prepare a private member's Bill on equitable CDF — with civil society groups, academics and other stakeholders invited to give inputs — and seek a meeting between the Unity Government Cabinet and his Shadow Cabinet.

“PN which perpetuated this undemocratic practice in March 2020-August 2021 has the equal moral obligation to prove that it is now committed to fairness,” Bersih said.

Several PN leaders including Arau MP Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim and Machang MP Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal had criticised Anwar’s Budget 2023 on the same issue.