17 September 2008

Opposition MPs bemused by BN portfolio switch

by Malaysian Insider

Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers were bemused when they heard the lunch time news that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi had swapped portfolios with his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

The PM is now the defence minister and the DPM is the minister of finance.

"The switch in mid-term appears very odd," DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang said in response to today's announcement.

In spite of that, he noted that the change of portfolios may prove a good thing and urged the "new" finance minister to take the opportunity to present a new and updated Budget proposal that would take into account the many international and domestic economic changes that have been and are still occuring in the weeks before Parliament reconvenes on Oct 13.

"We are in a very fast changing economic situation...locally and internationally. Najib should seriously consider presenting a new 2009 Budget," he said.

"What's the point in debating an obsolete Budget?" he told reporters after chairing the newly established parliamentary caucus to free Teresa Kok and abolish the Internal Security Act (ISA).

Like his father, Guan Eng (DAP-Bagan) who is also the chief minister of Penang, questioned the reason behind the switch.

"What can be achieved at this transition?" he asked aloud in front of reporters in Parliament today.

He opined that the switch "may hasten Najib's prospects at becoming prime minister".

Guan Eng noted that if that were the case, then there was no harm in the prime minister meeting opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, which the Pakatan Rakyat leaders have been rooting for, to ensure a "peaceful transition of power", arguing that they have managed to obtain the popular support of a majority of MPs from the ruling Barisan Nasional government.

"He should talk to Anwar or let the people decide," Guan Eng said.

Pas treasurer Dr Hatta Ramli said that the transfer of portfolios between the nation's top two administrators held no significance "except to reflect their individual failures in their portfolios".

"The PM is not capable of handling finances in the country. The DPM is not capable of handling' defence in the country," said the Kuala Krai MP.

"All these are like a threat. I don't feel the country needs any more threats,- he added.

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