KOTA KINABALU: They may have different ideas on who should become prime minister but Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal and PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim were united in questioning premier Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin over his reluctance to debate the Covid-19 Prihatin stimulus package.
Shafie, who is Chief Minister, was puzzled why the MPs could not debate over the RM250 billion package by the federal government, saying Sabah showed it could do with a simple state assembly sitting previously to explain what it spent on its Covid-19 package.
He said such a debate is needed because the Dewan Rakyat is tasked with ensuring there is no confusion among the people over the channeling of funds.
“We know that there are growing concerns among the grassroots and I fully agree this should be debated,” said the Semporna MP.
“The Sabah state assembly sat for three days and we debated and explained (the Sabah package) where (among others) taxi and lorry drivers, we also gave assistance.
“This is a big responsibility because the amount is quite big and we don’t want the people to be in the dark.”
Anwar, who was confirmed as the opposition leader today, said the package deserved a full debate as it was the first time such a huge allocation was given.
He questioned why the debate was barred when appointments to government-linked companies were being made.
“Is it so that the previous announcements and future ones would not make it possible for the participation of MPs to debate?
“Why did we block the debate on the economic recovery? Meanwhile, the GLC appointments were happening,” he said.
Meanwhile, Shafie who also brought up the matter during question time, said the debate was crucial to explain how the federal government could lessen the impact of the pandemic.
He said Sabah had suffered economically such as many of its hotels closing for business because of Covid-19.
“I would like to ask the prime minister, my concerns about the big unemployment issue in Sabah.
“Many companies have closed, hotels going bankrupt and this is really worrying, and we want to know how many exactly are unemployed.
“Many of our people who are renting could not even afford the upkeep of their children,” he said.
“But through the announcements of micro credits in Sabah for instance, we already have an explanation and we know the assistance have come.
“We want to know the efforts at the federal level have reached the state or not because we want to build a nation and we want to know the types of cooperation we need to create to revive the economy,” Shafie said.
In response to this, Muhyiddin said the unemployment rate is expected to rise to 860,000 by this year end but that the federal government had done its best to overcome it.
“We have explained that because of Covid-19, the unemployment percentage will go up this year, similar around the world,” he said, adding there 720,000 people who have lost their jobs in Malaysia now.