MPs squabble over equal funds for service centres

(Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Opposition and government MPs tussled in the Dewan Rakyat today over funds for constituency service centres, with Barisan Nasional MPs saying they should get an equal amount as Pakatan Harapan MPs.

Shahidan Kassim (BN-Arau) asked that all MPs be allocated the same amount of money for running their service centres.

He was supported by Che Abdullah Mat Nawi (PAS-Tumpat), Ismail Sabri (BN-Bera), and Wee Ka Siong (Ayer Hitam), among others. They urged the government to be fair and just and to keep their election promises to distribute funds transparently.

Last year, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad told the house that government MPs would receive an allocation of RM500,000 and opposition MPs RM100,000.

In response to the oppositions MPs’ request, Chan Ming Kai (PH-Alor Setar) asked if BN would give equal amounts to PH state assemblymen in states ruled by BN. “If you don’t agree you don’t have the right to (ask),” said Chan.

Two-term MP Abdullah Sani (PH-Kapar) said that when BN controlled the federal government he had not received any allocation.

Noor Amin Ahmad (PH-Kangar) then taunted the opposition for now claiming discrimination although BN itself, when in power, had refused to give allocation to opposition MPs.

Che Abdullah Mat Nawi (PAS-Tumpat) said Pakatan Harapan should set a good example at the federal level for others to follow.

The house was told that constituency allocations were released last week. Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Md Farid Md Rafik meanwhile said MPs of both sides now received funds for running their service centres.

“We can improve from time to time, based on the economy as well as on the discretion of the Prime Minister,” he said when winding up the debate on the Royal Address.

The constituency allocations amounted to a total of RM1.5 million for this year, he said. Last year, MPs received RM500,000 and Pakatan MPs were granted an additional RM500,000. In addition, Pakatan MPs also received RM300,000 to manage their service centres.