All eyes on Budget 2023 as PM Anwar faces first economic acid test in Parliament

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 13 — The second session of the 15th Parliament begins today amid growing public anxiety over soaring prices of goods, with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim set to face his first real leadership test when he tables Budget 2023 on February 24.

This will be Anwar’s maiden budget as prime minister and finance minister, and the reception could determine his government’s approval rating for the rest of the year. Anwar, who vowed to make the living cost issue a top priority upon taking office, currently enjoys a 68 per cent approval rating, according to a poll by Merdeka Center.

This meeting, to be opened by Yang diPertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and spanning 29 days, will also be a chance for Anwar to showcase his reformist mantle.

His national unity government said it would implement crucial parliamentary reforms as early as possible, including rolling out new practices meant to allow more scrutiny of the prime minister and his Cabinet members.

Anwar recently suggested dedicating a few hours for Dewan Rakyat members to direct questions to the prime minister, and another few more for ministers.

Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani suggested that the question time be earmarked for Tuesday and Thursday, with the pilot to take place in the first week of sittings.

There are also calls for Anwar to confer ministerial status to the Opposition Leader, a move proponents believe would strengthen Parliament’s oversight mechanism. It is unclear whether Anwar would agree to the idea.

White Papers

Several ministries are expected to table a White Paper on the procurement process of Covid-19 vaccines following claims of procedural breaches, Bernama reported.

Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said the paper will show if the procurement procedure was transparent, among others.

Anwar’s Cabinet approved the proposal to set up a task force for the White Paper on January 18, with the aim of providing a “comprehensive overview of the management of the procurement of the Covid-19 vaccine.”

A White Paper on Batu Puteh is also expected to be tabled, the state news agency reported.

The paper would shed light onto claims Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun made that the decision to withdraw a review application over the International Court of Justice’s decision on Batu Puteh (Pedra Branca), Middle Rocks and South Ledge claim was not in order and improper.

The Malaysian government had filed an application for a revision of the ICJ’s ruling in awarding the legal jurisdiction of Batu Puteh to Singapore in 2017 but the Pakatan Harapan government led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad withdrew the application the year after, before the case was heard as the hearing was scheduled in June 2018.

Anwar said in December that the dispute over Batu Puteh should be done through “immediate and more meaningful negotiations” with Singapore, without jeopardising bilateral relations.


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.