It’s been an incredible day with the IRB bill. Several senior MPs told me that they don’t remember the government ever doing such a u-turn on an amendment. UMNO-BN never had to because they have the numbers in Parliament to push through any bill they wish.
So what makes this particular episode so special or unique? In my work to fight this bill, I may have accidentally uncovered the Achilles’ heel of the Najib Administration.
We know for certain that the Najib administration isn’t afraid of opposition MPs or even any rebellious BN backbenchers. These guys are also not afraid of newspapers or opinions from the internet either.
In this fight, I actually contacted the rating agencies, whom I meet on a periodic basis when they are in town to cover Malaysia. I firmly believe that these rating agencies and their negative opinions must have spooked the Najib administration into withdrawing the investment panel.
So there you have it. My theory is as such: If you want to defeat the Najib Administration, talk to the rating agencies and convince them to take up your cause.
Here are links to my speech and also my press conference today:
Part 1 of my speech: here
Part 2 of my speech: here
My press conference this morning: here
I did a press conference this morning at party HQ on the matter of the IRB bill. Below is my press statement. A video link to my press conference can be found here.
Press Statement Regarding the Re-tabling of the Inland Revenue Board Amendment Bill 2014
PKR would like to alert the public that the Inland Revenue Board amendments is definitely to be tabled again in this coming session of Parliament. In fact, it is scheduled for the first day of Parliament on the 7th of October.
Earlier in June 2014, the Finance Minister tabled an amendment to the IRB Act 1995, with the intention to create an Investment Panel in the IRB with the potential to invest an unlimited amount of money in equities, debt and properties.
Historically, the Inland Revenue Board Fund is relatively small at approximately RM250 million and the investment that they can pursue is limited to fixed deposits in recognised banks. The bill proposed in June gives the Finance Minister unfettered powers and raises legitimate fears that he will dip into roughly RM140 billion a year in tax collection.
Since the Ministry retracted the legislation in June, we have not seen the newly drafted amendment to be tabled next week.
For such an important legislation, this is completely unbecoming of the Government in terms of governance and the practice of parliamentary democracy.
3 weeks ago, I wrote a letter to the Finance Minister asking for an advanced copy of the amendment. It took them 14 days to respond, only to pass the buck to another department in the Ministry. We only found out that the amendment is to be tabled again when we received the Order of Proceedings for the October session of Parliament on Tuesday evening.
We are vehemently opposed to the legislation if the Government continues to propose an Investment Panel with access to unlimited funds.
We urge all Members of Parliament to be extra vigilant on this legislation and we demand Najib, as Finance Minister, to release the draft legislation to the public immediately to enable proper study, consideration and debate on this matter.
YB Wong Chen, MP for Kelana Jaya
2 October 2014