malaysiakini has this article headed:
"Najib: It's not a populist budget!"
citizen1 thinks: "After your recent outburst about how some Malaysians are ungrateful about the fuel price reduction, are you trying to be more diplomatic? Maybe you want to swear on that too?"
The article also has some remarks made by various people.
"Dr Maximus Ongkili, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation:
This is not a politically motivated move as these are the basic demands of the people. The government is very sensitive to the voice of the people especially in Sabah and Sarawak. We have been voicing it in our state assemblies that the basic needs should be met. And this is our focused action on the matter. But we will see how sincere the government is in tackling those problems.
citizen2: "Let the goodies flow. They (Putrajaya) will listen more so long as you do not pledge"
Hishamuddin Hussein, Minister of Education:
I am very happy with the allocations and thankful to the government despite our unstable economic situation. The allocation given to the ministry is also much higher than last year's as we have received an extra RM1.8 billion in this budget. This proves that the government is making public education as a priority and I admit that this huge amount of allocation would give me a bigger responsibility and I will make sure that it will be channelled to the right hands.
citizen3: "Whose hands might that be? You are responsible to ensure the success of the improvement of English. What is the status?"
Liow Tiong Lai, Minister of Health:
We are very happy with the government's plan. We were given special funds to build clinics in rural areas and the budget provided for us to continue to uplift the services of our health delivery system in the country and the government has put that in the right direction.
(On higher taxes for cigarettes) This is a very strong sign of the commitment of the government to get people to quit smoking, especially the young people. Smoking is bad for the health. So the government will continue with the anti-smoking campaign. We hope that the increase of the price will deter the people from smoking.
citizen4: "You will definitely uplift the health system by bringing home those recalcitrant doctors who were on overseas scholarships!"
Ahmad Shabery Cheek, Minister of Information:
This is a popular budget and we are accused of being populist. Populist means when the crude oil price goes up, they would say they would bring down the price. Now that is populist rather than realistic. But the government admits that when the oil price goes up, we would also increase the price. This budget is a realistic plan for the time being.
citizen5:"So you lost the debate. Your last remark indicates the budget is a stop-gap without much long-range thinking and focus"
Nor Mohamed Yakcop, Minister of Finance (II):
The deficit will increase this year, but this is only a one-off deficit as it will go down next year in 2009 as the government's revenue will increase. The deficit will also go down due to the taxes paid by Petronas as the company would pay the taxes this year according to last year's deficit, which is much lower.But this year, our deficit has increased, and next year Petronas would be paying the taxes according to this year's much higher amount of deficit.
citizen6: "Either malaysiakini reporter misquoted you or you yourself don't understand what you are saying!"
Shahrir Abdul Samad, Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs:
The government will give RM20 free electricity for poor home owners only. We are not copying the Selangor government that gives RM20 free water without considering they are poor or not. We are giving to those who do not actually use a lot of electricity, that fall in the income bracket that really needs help.We have for those who need help that can't improve their lives in the economic position. It is the government's responsibility to increase the social safety net. That is a group that needs help and assistance and by assisting those behind the poverty line including pensioners who can't really find any other way to increase their income. But for those who are above that line, particularly in the employed public sector, the budget is encouraging the employers to give benefits that can be claimed as a deductible expenses from their taxes. So it is a direct way for the private sector to be more productive.
citizen7: "I guess the Government takes us for fools about not copying the free water move. I like the bit about social safety net. It probably means cronies will be provided double or triple safety nets - after all they are higher maintenance"