Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim on Tuesday parried concerns over his holding of ministerial portfolios and allayed fears of future tax hikes in his debut performance at a British-style “Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQ)” session, introduced to improve scrutiny of the top office and freshen up the country’s stale political discourse. But unlike the UK “PMQs” – as it is known – which often descend into furious jibes and partisan recriminations, the first day of the Malaysian version passed in a courteous and orderly fashion. The only jab from the opposition came from Radzi Jidin, the point person for financial and economic matters, who questioned Anwar’s dual roles as prime minister and finance minister. Radzi gave the example of former premier Najib Razak , who is in jail for his role in the looting of the state fund 1MDB , as a cautionary tale of overreach by those in the top office. Anwar responded by saying the issue was not with the roles held but with how the power was used. “The problem is if we abuse the position to steal the people’s money,” the prime minister said. Najib denies all allegations against him. That exchange stems from a question by Taiping lawmaker Wong Kah Woh who asked the prime minister about the national debt which has risen to 1.5 billion ringgit or 81 per cent of the country’s GDP. In his response, Anwar also pledged that his administration would not introduce a broad base consumption tax to increase revenue. Malaysia’s ‘compassionate’ US$1 meal scheme a hit with low-income Others, like Tawau MP Lo Su Fai, asked Anwar about corruption and ways to improve investigations into such cases to improve Malaysia ’s image internationally. Anwar has introduced PMQs as part of his broad reform agenda since taking top office last November, after cobbling together a coalition government following a closely run election. It is set to take place every Tuesday when parliament sits. The breakout PMQs may have been tame, but it was well received on social media where the Malaysian public applauded the upgrade in parliamentary debate, calling Anwar brave for inviting scrutiny. “What’s the point in bantering on Twitter , on TikTok ? Ask away, we the people are watching,” said a Twitter user urging lawmakers to make full use of this new arrangement. While House Speaker Johari Abdul said it was still at a trial stage, early public opinion appeared in favour of regular PMQs to allow greater scrutiny of a prime minister and participation in politics. “They can be questioned directly in front of all MPs and on the television screens of all Malaysian people. Don’t get rid of this initiative,” said another Twitter user. Does Malaysia’s Umno have to ‘outdo’ PAS to regain the Malay vote? A routine question session may also improve the attendance of lawmakers in parliament. Former premier Muhyiddin Yassin scored last among 220 lawmakers in parliamentary attendance between 2021 to 2022 according to MyMP, a parliamentary watchdog group. Other former prime ministers also scored poorly with Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Mahathir Mohamad coming in near the bottom of the table. Other recent parliamentary reforms have been more cosmetic, such as loosening the dress code by allowing Members of Parliament to come wearing batik shirts on Thursdays and doing away with the need to wear ties in a tropical country where the temperature can exceed 35 degrees Celsius.