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Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, 7th April 2009: 

The new Najib Cabinet must pass the test of a clean slate of Ministers which meet the three Najib benchmarks of “1Malaysia. People First. Performance Now.”

The country his inundated with rumous and speculations about the first Najib Cabinet which may be unveiled tomorrow.

According to one report, as many as 10 Umno Cabinet Ministers may be dropped and among those named in this category are Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad, who has already tendered his resignation, and Second Finance Minister Datuk Nor Mohamed Yakcop, Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, Tourism Minister Datuk Azalina Othman, Energy, Water and communications Minister Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor, Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Zulhasnan Rafique, Rural and Regional Development Minister Tan Sri Muhammad Muhd Taib, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khalid Nordin and Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Chik.

The Najib Cabinet is expected to be leaner than the Abdullah Cabinet.

MCA is reported to be demanding that a new post of a Chinese Deputy Prime Minister be created while MIC wants to have a second Cabinet appointment.

The first Abdullah Cabinet appointed after the Barisan Nasional landslide general election victory in March 2004 was a great disappointment – laying the seeds of the failure and downfall of the Abdullah premiership.

In fact, it did not take long before former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad condemned and dismissed the Abdullah Cabinet as a “half-past six” Cabinet – although the majority of the Abdullah Ministers were holdovers from Mahathir’s Cabinet. (I often wonder whether Mahathir was aware that he had been a Prime Minister of a half-past six Cabinet for most of his 22 years of premiership.)

Will the first Najib Cabinet meet the same fate of the first Abdullah Cabinet – although not dismissed by Mahathir as a “half-past six Cabinet” with Mahathir now ensconced in his new position as eminence grise or even Empress Dowager Cixi “ruling from behind the curtain” in Najib’s premiership but by the Malaysian people?

The new Najib Cabinet must pass the test of a clean slate of Ministers which meets the three Najib benchmarks of “1Malaysia. People First. Performance Now.”.

It is shocking that two Cabinet Ministers dropped by Abdullah in his second Cabinet after the 2004 general election are “hot favourites” to be appointed into the Najib Cabinet.

How can Najib convince Malaysians that his first Cabinet is a clean one when he could appoint as Ministers persons whom Abdullah had thrown out of the Cabinet because of their failure to pass Abdullah’s integrity test?

The Najib Cabinet will come under stringent scrutiny as to whether it would pass the first Najib slogan of “1Malaysia”.

Will the Cabinet be fully representative of “1Malaysia” where important Cabinet portfolios are fairly allocated to all ethnic groups – and not as in the past, where Umno political hegemony denied to all other racial groups, whether Chinese, Indians, Kadazans and Ibans, fair allocation of important Cabinet portfolios?

Will Najib breathe meaning to his “1Malaysia” slogan by ensuring that important Cabinet posts such as Finance, Education, International Trade and Commerce, Home, Defence and Information are allocated to non-Umno Ministers, whether Chinese, Indians, Kadazans or Ibans?

If the Najib Cabinet is to pass the test of his second slogan “People First”, he must slash the 33-Minister Cabinet of Abdullah by at least one third to be really lean, effective and productive.

Najib will lose all credibility to talk about “People First” if he continues to put political interests above national interest by having a bloated Cabinet with many Cabinet Ministers appointed not because of their competence or capability but just to “distribute spoils of office” among Barisan Nasional leaders.

Najib’s third slogan of “Performance Now” could not have started on a worse footing, when his announcement of the “immediate release” of two Hindraf leaders, V.Ganabatirau and R. Kengadharan on Friday night was only executed 46 hours later on Sunday evening.

If the Prime Minister’s writ is not honoured and implemented immediately by the bureaucracy, how can Malaysians have faith and confidence to expect greater efficiency and productivity on the part of the rest of the Najib Cabinet?

*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor



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