27th March 2017, 09.47 a.m.: Malaysia Boleh
Good morning from Parliament. We are set to debate the 1st supplementary budget for money already spent by UMNO BN government last year! Yes, money already spent and now coming to Parliament to white wash the spending. Only in Malaysia boleh!
The government has spent in addition to its 2016 deficit budget an extra RM4.5 billion. And in the next two Parliament sittings, we expect more disclosures of even more money already spent.
This is why no economist ever take the announced October government budget numbers seriously; the deficit will always increase from the original number. For the last 17 years, the UMNO BN government has demonstrated financial discipline equivalent of a toddler. My six year old son knows better that he has to save money now in order to buy his birthday present later. The main problem in Malaysia is the very same guy (Najib) who gifted us with 1MDB is also Finance Minister in charge of Malaysian public finance.
Stay tuned as the debate in Parliament heats up later today over money spent!
27th March 2017, 09.47 a.m.: The Game’s Afoot!
The supplementary budget fight has just started. Round one is to discuss the broad policy rationales behind a supplementary budget. I questioned the Finance Minister of doing budget window dressing. There are many pay outs in the supplementary budget that are completely predictable and should have been originally budgeted for in October 2015. I also asked the Minister to explain the additional revenue collected in 2016 and explain in detail the actual deficit for 2016. Lastly, how was the supplementary budget paid for in 2016, was there bridging loans or government bond issued.
Tomorrow, the real battle will start as we go though each item of the supplementary budget.
(To watch Wong Chen’s debate on the supplementary bill, click here.)
28th March 2017, 09.42p.m.: Bon rétablissement, Kak Wan!
Good morning from Parliament. The President of France will be in Parliament around 9.30 am for a military parade ceremony. Later we will be continuing our supplementary budget bill debate. I am due to raise 5 items in the debate.
Yesterday, I had a few short but cordial exchanges with the Finance Minister 2. After Parliament, I rushed to KL to attend the European Union 60th Anniversary event. I caught up with several ambassadors including the EU Ambassador and her husband (a very good cook).
After the EU event, my wife and I went to Hospital Al Islam in Kampung Baru to visit Kak Wan. She was hospitalised yesterday, with fever and exhaustion. She looked a bit tired but was overall in good spirit. We met Haji Jez and his wife there and the five of us talked and joked for half an hour. She sends her best wishes to everyone. As Opposition Leader, she asked all MPs to continue to scrutinise all the bills. I am always surprised by her gentle but no nonsense leadership. She puts duty and others ahead of her personal welfare and health. Get well soon Kak Wan!
28th March 2017, 17.13 p.m.: MPs Against Predators
Very rarely MPs from both sides get together to work on and support a bill. The Sexual Offences Against Children bill is slated to be tabled next week. The bill is widely supported by all women MPs and a large majority of male MPs.
Last year, I joined several women MPs in a debate to increase the age of consent and marriage to 18 years old. This was objected to by several male MPs from PAS and UMNO, who saw no issue with a 16 year old girl getting married! This bill may bring up the issue of age of consent again. We hope to nip this possible thorny issue in the bud by organising a briefing this Thursday.
29th March 2017, 10.40 a.m.: The Bankruptcy (Amendment) Bill 2017
Good morning from Parliament. Today we are going to debate the Bankruptcy Act bill. This is a decent legislation that I will support save for one area. I will take part in both the policy stage and committee stage.
On the policy stage, I will focus on the fact that the bankruptcy bill aims to address a small symptom of a larger banking problem. The bigger challenge is to legislate and monitor the banking industry. Today’s banks are no longer stuffy, staid and risk averse. Today’s bankers are more akin to very clever pirates, fuelling growth on debt and turning the markets into volatile casinos. The impact of modern free fall all banking is serious and far reaching. I will urge the government to recognise that the bill is a mere plaster to the cancer and ask for the formation of a banking and finance select committee.
At the committee stage I will raise 6 points. The most important will be my objection to the wide discretionary powers of the minister and DG of Insolvency in setting the amount a bankrupt need to pay to discharge himself. Wide discretionary powers will inevitably lead to abuses of power. Bankruptcy reforms must have certainty to be truly effective.
29th March 2017, 12.30 p.m.: One Bill Down
I just gave my policy speech on bankruptcy and the banking system. I called for more data, government to study the correlation of bank profits and incidence of bankruptcy and lastly asking the governent to form a select committee on banking and finance. The file however is too big to upload on facebook via my handphone. I will ask my staff to put up the video tomorrow morning instead.
Earlier at 11, I joined several MPs to greet protestors seeking greater labour rights and retrenchment insurance.
30th March 2017, 10.44 a.m.: Briefings on the Sexual Offences against Children Bill 2017
Good morning from Parliament. Today’s bills are on Courts, Judges’ Remuneration, and Weights and Measures. I am not leading the debates on these and such will play secondary role to interject on an ad hoc basis. So it’s a relatively easier day for me unlike the very hectic last 3 days of debates. I will be back in a leading role when the finance bills on stamp duties come around next week.
In addition, I have a manifesto meeting today in Parliament. This is followed by 2 detailed briefings by experts on the new Sexual Offences against Children Bill 2017. I have read this bill carefully and support it 100%. There are a few tweaks to improve the bill but overall this bill is very important and long overdue.