PETALING JAYA: The government’s decision to pass an emergency ordinance allowing it to tap into the National Trust Fund (KWAN) for vaccine expenses has stirred up a hornet’s nest, with many questioning the need for such a move.
A day after former prime minister Najib Razak questioned the need to tap into KWAN, several others have also joined the chorus of criticism.
Najib pointed out Putrajaya had previously said the RM3 billion was sufficient to vaccinate 83% of Malaysians and there was no reason to seek more funds.
Muhammed Abdul Khalid, who was former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s economic adviser, said today that he was shocked that the Perikatan Nasional-led government had resorted to tap into KWAN when it could easily raise funds from other sources.
“KWAN is similar to Norway’s oil fund, which is meant for future generations. Even in times of crises, such as the 1998 Asian Financial Crisis or the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, the government did not touch the fund.”
Khalid said Putrajaya was being irresponsible by using KWAN money for vaccines when it had already allocated RM3 billion under the 2021 budget and an additional RM2 billion in March.
“The public has a right to know why the government needs even more money for vaccines and how much money will be taken from KWAN.”
Klang MP Charles Santiago also said the government must explain why the billions allocated for the vaccine programme were insufficient.
“Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin must be open, accountable and transparent in the way funds were used and allow for public scrutiny.
“The use of KWAN would compromise investments and push foreign investors to have little faith and confidence in the way we manage finances.”
Santiago added that it was worrying that the government could arbitrarily use up the RM16 billion available in the fund before the emergency ends.
Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii, meanwhile, urged the government to reconvene Parliament and allow the parliamentary select committees to function to ensure there is transparency over the plans to tap into KWAN.
“The usage of such funds must go through approval and scrutiny in Parliament so that this money that is for the people is really being spent prudently and efficiently.”
He said the fact that the government had to tap into KWAN highlights its failure in managing the Covid-19 crisis.