PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s Budget 2023 will be the first that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will table as Prime Minister – and the eighth that he will present to Parliament.
Anwar had tabled the budget seven times as Finance Minister from 1991 to 1997.
Anwar incidentally is not the Finance Minister to have tabled the most number of budgets in the nation’s history.
That record is held by Tun Tan Siew Sin who tabled 13 budgets, from Malaya’s 1960 Budget right up to Malaysia’s 1974 Budget.
There were no budgets tabled in Parliament for 1970 and 1971 on account of the May 1969 Emergency.
Parliament’s Hansard, the official recording of proceedings in the Dewan Rakyat, records 61 budgets since 1960.
The year 2023, however, will see two Budgets. The Budget to be tabled on Friday, Feb 24, will be the second Budget 2023.
The previous government had tabled Budget 2023 on Oct 7 last year but Parliament was dissolved for the 15th General Election (GE15) before lawmakers could approve the spending plan.
Anwar will thus be tabling a fresh budget for this year, in line with the aspirations of the current ruling coalition which he leads.
Though the country’s budgets have most often been on Fridays, this has not always been the case.
The budgets for 1960 to 1976 were tabled on various days of the week other than Friday.
Tun Hussein Onn, meanwhile, was the last to delivered a budget speech in English when he tabled the Budget for 1976.
Since then, all Budget speeches have been delivered in the Dewan Rakyat in Bahasa Malaysia.
Of the 10 Finance Ministers who have presented the nation’s budgets, Tan also holds the record for the longest budget speech.
The average Budget speech is about 11,000 words long, which would take about an hour and 40 minutes to read from start to finish.
Tabling the 1966 Budget on Nov 17, 1965, Tan read a speech that was more than 23,000 words long, which took him two-hours and fifty-five minutes to read.
The 1966 Budget tabling took place about three months after Singapore was thrown out of the federation of Malaysia.
Tan also holds the record for the second, third, and fourth longest Budget speeches, when tabling the budgets for 1965, 1967 and 1968 respectively.
In fifth place is Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for Budget 2004.
He presented the annual spending plan for the year on Sept 12, 2003, about a month-and-a-half before his retirement as Prime Minister at the end of October that year.
Dr Mahathir’s Budget 2004 speech was nearly 18,000-words-long.
He finished with a farewell poem:
Because of you Malaysia
We uphold the nation, unite the people
We set a thousand steps forward
Together we strive in darkness, riding the waves
Seeking for the light, reaching for the dream
Defying a million obstacles
Though we may fall
We shall persevere to achieve our vision
Peaceful is my country
Blessed with success, bestowed with prosperity
United we stand, resolute in determination
Glow the spirit of patriotism
The world has acknowledged
Our dignity has been upheld
No more aggression
No more humiliation
Our independence enshrined
Peaceful is my country.. Malaysia