On 29th October 1999, the first Finance Minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin presented in Parliament the 2000 Budget as an election budget to endear the Barisan Nasional to the voters in the impending tenth general election.
On 1st November, the 11-day policy debate on the 2000 Budget started, which would be followed by a 16-day committee stage debate of the estimates ministry by ministry. This means that the 2000 budget could only be passed by the Dewan Rakyat on December 14, 1999.
However, on 10th November, 1999, while Parliament was only half-way through the policy debate on the 2000 Budget, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad decided to dissolve Parliament, making the 2000 Budget gain the notoriety of being "the budget that was never passed".
Five Bills which had been passed earlier by the Dewan Rakyat, the Sale of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 1999, the Child Bill 1999, Supplementary Supply 1999 (No. 2) Bill 1999, the Income Tax (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 1999 and the Public Service Tribunal (Dissolution) Bill 1999 as well as the 2000 Budget have all lapsed as a result of the dissolution and they have all to be introduced again in the new Parliament, re-debated and re-passed.
As I had said in my statement on the day the announcement was made about the dissolution, it was the height of irresponsibility and utter political contempt and arrogance to dissolve Parliament in mid-session when there was no political or constitutional crisis.
But this is only the latest in a long catalogue of Barisan Nasional political irresponsibility bred by a culture of political hegemony resulting from never losing two-thirds parliamentary majority.
Barisan Nasional had 166 out of a total of 192 MPs in the just-dissolved Parliament, which was a juggernaut of a five-sixth majority. But Barisan Nasional was often unable to ensure that there was a quorum of 26 MPs - as Barisan Nasional Ministers and MPs are well-known for playing truant from parliamentary meetings.
This is highlighted by the attendance record published by New Straits
Times (November 11, 1999) which showed that there was only quorum in three
out of 13 days of the Parliamentary session from Oct. 18 - Nov. 9,
1999 when a tally was taken at 5 p.m. every day:
Oct 18 20
Oct 19 42
Oct 20 20
Oct 21 9
Oct 25 15
Oct 26 31
Oct 27 22
Oct 28 22
Nov 1 25
Nov 2 15
Nov 3 30
Nov 4 15
Nov 9 14
Although the 2000 Budget was never passed and another 2000 Budget would have to be presented in the new tenth Parliament which would be elected on November 29, 1999, the DAP speeches made in the wasted debate raised grave and pertinent issues about governance in Malaysia on the eve of the new millennium, and are reasons why Malaysians must not lose the golden political opportunity first time in the 42-year history to break the Barisan Nasional political hegemony by ending its two-thirds majority in the tenth general election.