Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz has called for bipartisan support to ensure the government’s National Recovery Plan (NRP) passes in Parliament.
In a long op-ed published in The Malay Mail this morning, he hoped political parties would set differences aside to help the country defeat the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ahead of the vote, Zafrul (above) shared that he will be inviting the opposition to give their feedback on the NRP, even if not all were on board.
“I believe the NRP is our best hope yet - and currently our most viable multi-voice solution - in exiting this pandemic.
“This is why we have also invited members of opposing political parties like Pakatan Harapan, Warisan and of course, Pejuang, who has unfortunately officially refused the invitation.
“In gathering viewpoints from as many quarters as possible, a good idea is a good idea, it should not matter who proposes it. In fact, this is exactly what the Finance Ministry did during Budget 2021, when we incorporated various proposals - even from the opposition parties - in the budget.
“Pejuang’s rejection aside, this will not stop us from continuing to reach out and engage all sides to consider everyone’s views in implementing the NRP,” he said.
The minister underscored that the government was “sincere and serious” in seeking diverse views for the NRP.
Yesterday, Pejuang president Mukhriz Mahathir reiterated his party’s call for a National Recovery Council (Majlis Pemulihan Negara) instead of the NRP.
Pejuang previously proposed that the council be made up of experts from various fields and have powers akin to the cabinet. It will report directly to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and have the autonomy to take action.
Bipartisan effort for bill
Meanwhile, Zafrul hoped parties would be able to “close ranks” and work together to take Malaysia out of the pandemic.
He pointed to successful bipartisan efforts in Canada, New Zealand and South Korea in managing the Covid-19 crisis.
“Our people deserve the same, if not better. Why can’t we show the same political will and cooperation to save our rakyat?
“Our esteemed parliamentarians did this for the Covid-19 Bill in August 2020, for which I am sure the people are deeply thankful as it enabled aid and assistance to be channelled to the rakyat.
“I am confident we will be able to do it again through the NRP [...],” he said.
Throughout his piece, the minister implored five times, including in the headline, for differences to be set aside.
“I pray for sense over political satire, and for peace over posturing. Do not let our differences douse the Malaysian spirit to nurse our nation back on its feet again.
“Let us, for once, put those differences aside, and draw upon that sense of solidarity from deep within each of us, to unite and ensure victory in our war against Covid-19, so we can one day declare that we have menang bersama! (won together)” he said.
Zafrul’s call comes as Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin faces yet more pressure to resign over serious doubts over his Dewan Rakyat majority.
Two more MPs from the party may be following suit, Umno sources told Malaysiakini.
In light of this, several quarters have challenged Muhyiddin to prove his majority in the Dewan Rakyat. The next sitting is scheduled from September 6 to 30.
In his article, Zafrul appeared to call for an end to attempts to change the “pilot”.
“It is important for everyone to remain united and focused on the task at hand by looking at the bigger picture.
“It is like we are on a flight, and the plane suffers some technical problems that need to be fixed in mid-air to avoid a crash.
“Instead of focusing on ensuring everyone’s safe landing, the crew bicker about changing the pilot instead. Imagine us the rakyat as passengers on that flight - how do we feel?” he asked.