Speech by Lim Kit Siang at the Rasah DAP Solidarity Dinner in Seremban on Friday, 10th October 2008: 

Black Friday – Najib should present revised 2009 Budget in Parliament on Monday

Today is Black Friday. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index plunged 34.88 points or 3.6 per cent to close at 934.01, falling to its lowest level since July 2006.

We are feeling the effects of the world financial meltdown as the United States Government’s US$700 billion (RM2.5 trillion) bailout has failed to inspire confidence that it is sufficient to avert a looming world economic depression.

But this is not the only bad news for Malaysia, which has been aplenty lately particularly our deteriorating national competitiveness.

Yesterday, for instance, it was announced that for the second consecutive year, not a single Malaysian university has succeeded to get listed in the 2008 THES-QS World Top 200 Universities while a fortnight ago, Malaysia’s ranking on the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index 2008 plunged 10 places to No. 47 in 2008 from No. 37 five years ago in 2003 when Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi became Prime Minister.

What disturb Malaysians is that the Barisan Nasional government is totally at sea and unprepared to face the looming world financial crisis, as the Ministers and BN leaders are too preoccupied fighting for survival in their respective political parties to be able to plan out a strategy to save the Malaysian economy from the world financial meltdown.

Parliament is reconvening on Monday after a six-week recess and the first item of business is the beginning of the 2009 budget debate.

I have always been uncomfortable about the presentation of the 2009 budget on August 29 and the immediate adjournment of Parliament for six weeks for the fasting month without any debate until six weeks later on Oct. 13.

So many things would have happened in the national and world economy in the intervening six months as to make the 2009 Budget presented six weeks ago quite outdated and irrelevant – as has been proved to be the case with the fast-paced world financial meltdown in the past six weeks.

Why wasn’t the 2009 Budget be presented on the Friday before the reconvening of Parliament on Oct. 13, i.e. today on Oct. 10, so that the 2009 Budget that would be debated in Parliament on Monday would be timely and relevant to the latest economic scene, both local and global?

There is now another reason why the presentation of the 2009 Budget on August 29 and its debate on Monday on Oct. 13 is most odd – as there is now a new Finance Minister, with Datuk Seri Najib Razak taking over the portfolio on Sept. 17 when pressures mounted in Umno to fast-track Abdullah’s power-transition plan.

Is the 2009 Budget Abdullah’s Budget or Najib’s Budget?

These are two reasons why before the parliamentary debate on the 2009 budget begins on Monday, Najib should present a revised 2009 Budget which should take into account the financial maelstrom in the past six weeks and present the government strategy to counter the adverse impacts of the looming world economic crisis on Malaysia.

* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor