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A closer look inside the 'MP allocations' cookie jar

KINIGUIDE | As the tabling of Budget 2021 on Nov 6 draws near, opposition MPs have been pushing for a “unity budget” amid concerns that the budget might be voted down as a show of no-confidence against Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Previously, after rejecting a bid by the government to secure an emergency declaration – the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had advised MPs to support Budget 2021 and ensure that it passes without hindrance.

Several Pakatan Harapan leaders then met with Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz on Nov 1 for talks on the Budget.

Among the proposals from opposition MPs for the “unity budget” includes calling for the government to provide equal allocations for all parliamentarians regardless of party.

In this KiniGuide, Malaysiakini aims to explain what an MP’s allocation is and why the opposition is calling for equal allocations, among others.

What is an MP’s allocation? What is it used for?

Every MP is allotted a certain amount of allocations by the federal government, which is to be spent on the betterment of their own constituencies.

The MPs can apply for an allocation for development purposes in their constituency, such as constructing a new community building or other facilities.

They can also apply for allocations from the federal government to be given as grants or donations to NGOs or other associations within their constituencies.

So how much allocation does an MP get?

An MP receives a different amount of allocation depending on whether they are a government MP or opposition MP.

Under the Pakatan Harapan federal administration, a government MP could apply for up to RM3.5 million a year in allocations.

This RM3.5 million is split into RM2 million for development purposes while the other RM1.5 million is for grant and donation purposes.

In early 2020, East Malaysian backbencher MPs were given an additional RM500,000 on top of the RM3.5 million.

Meanwhile, an opposition MP can only apply for up to RM100,000 a year in allocation from the federal government.

Are there any other allocations given to MPs?

Yes, but only for government MPs, who are given an additional RM300,000 per annum for the expenses of their service centre.

An opposition MP does not receive any additional allocations from the federal government.

Some BN MPs had cried foul over this matter during the Harapan administration as it had promised in its election manifesto to “provide funding based on a transparent formula to all members of the Dewan Rakyat so that they can carry out the responsibilities in their respective constituencies and to run their service centres”.

Historically, what were the differences in allocations between government MPs and opposition MPs?

Opposition MPs were not given any allocation for their constituencies or only a small amount.

Back in 2010, then Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj even brought the federal government to court for withholding funds allocated to his constituency.

At the time, he said he was told the federal government had given RM2 million to his constituency, but he said he had not seen any of this allocated funds.

The case was brought all the way to the Federal Court, but Jeyakumar eventually lost the lawsuit.

Are MP allocations different from their salaries?

Yes, their allocations are separate from their salaries and allowances, which falls under the Members of Parliament (Remuneration) Act 1980.

For the record, an MP’s monthly salary, including their usual allowances, is RM25,700.

There are also other allowances or subsidies they can claim for specific purposes, such as RM400 per day for their attendance during parliamentary sittings, or RM1,000 once every three years for the purchase of black-tie attire.

Who is calling for equal allocations for MPs in this budget?

On Oct 22, former youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman proposed for a confidence-and-supply arrangement, whereby parties or lawmakers agree to support the government on motions of confidence or supply (budget) bills.

This is in contrast to a coalition arrangement where all member MPs are expected to vote in favour of the government on every bill.

However, one of his conditions for such an arrangement was for equal constituency allocations for all MPs.

Similarly, a few days later, Amanah deputy president Salahuddin Ayub also urged the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government to provide an equal allocation for all parliamentarians.

Back in August, DAP organising secretary and Seremban MP Anthony Loke Siew Fook had also called for equal treatment in terms of constituency allocation from the government.

Why are they calling for equal allocations?

Syed Saddiq said an equal allocation for all MPs would remove the need for party hopping among the MPs.

For Salahuddin, he said MPs need equal allocations because all MPs serve the people and thus allocation should be distributed fairly.

“All MPs serve the people. If the allocation is only meant for the MPs who support the government when the budget needs the approval of everyone, by right, it should be fairly distributed to the people,” he said.

This instalment of Kiniguide is compiled by GERALDINE TONG

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