The next few appointments to the GLCs will be acid test of Nor Mohamed’s  assurance to Parliament yesterday on the selection  of the “best and brightest” Malaysians  regardless of bumiputras or non-bumiputras

Media Conference
by Lim Kit Siang

(Parliament House, Wednesday): I welcome the undertaking given by the Second Finance Minister, Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop specifically in response to my contention  in Parliament yesterday that “the best and the brightest” Malaysians regardless of whether bumiputras or non-bumiputras would be appointed to head government-linked companies (GLCs). 

In my speech in the debate on the Supply (reallocation of appropriated expenditure) Bill 2004 yesterday, I  had stressed that GLCs are companies linked to the Malaysian government whose performance, productivity and profitability are the concern of all Malaysians, and as such, CEOs (Chief Executive Officers) and COOs (Chief Operating Officers) appointed to GLCs  should come from the reservoir of the best and brightest of all Malaysians, regardless of race. 

Nor Mohamed in response said that although there are no bumiputras among the  six candidates appointed to head GLCs to date, he gave the assurance that non-bumiputra candidates will be appointed.

The next few appointments to the GLCs will be the acid test of Nor Mohamed’s  assurance to Parliament on the selection of the “best and brightest” Malaysians  regardless of bumiputras or non-bumiputras to head the GLCs. 

The second meeting of Parliament will be for 10 days from July 5 to 20, and Nor Mohamed should give a progress report in the appointment of the “best and brightest” Malaysians,  bumiputras or non-bumiputras,  to head the GLCs. 

I had yesterday congratulated Nor Mohamed for his maiden appearance in Parliament to answer a question during question time and to present the Supply (reallocation of appropriated expenditure) Bill 2004, and  expressed the hope that he would make regular appearances in Parliament  as MPs want a “hands-on” and “minds-on” Minister to be personally present to be  responsible and accountable for the various important decisions involving the Treasury.  This is because Mohamed is  the de facto Minister responsible for the Finance Ministry, especially its day-to-day operations, with the First Finance Minister who is also Prime Minister having his hands full with  all the major government commitments on top of his other portfolio as Minister for Internal Security 

Nor Mohamed performed well in his first parliamentary appearance - his only blemish was his answer to my criticism about the jumbo-size Cabinet appointed by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi after the March 21 general election. 

Abdullah’s appointment of  the biggest Cabinet in the nation’s history – a grand total of 93 comprising 33 Ministers, 38 Deputy Ministers and 22 Parliamentary Secretaries, or almost every one of two Barisan MPs is  a government front-bencher – is completely indefensible on any ground, and Nor Mohamed was trying to defend the indefensible yesterday.


Such a big, bloated and flabby Cabinet will be in the full tradition of third-world African countries like Mugabe’s Zimbabwe but not first-world countries like Australia.  Zimbabwe which has a population of 12 million and  a 150-member legislature  has 30 full Ministers alone to preside over the misery and poverty of the Zimbabweans, while Australia with 20 million population has only 16 Ministers or a total government front-bench of 44 Ministers, junior Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries.


Malaysia has  the dubious distinction of having a bigger Cabinet than India, although we only have 2.3 per cent of the Indian population of 1 billion people.  The previous Vajpayee coalition government had 27 full Ministers while the new Manmohan Singh Cabinet has 28 full Cabinet Ministers.


Will there be a shake-up and down-sizing of the Cabinet after the UMNO party elections in September to weed out the deadwood and even more important those perceived as not clean and incorrupt, so that Malaysia will have a lean, clean, professional and smart Cabinet to propel Malaysia into the world’s  front ranks in the new era of globalization, liberalization and information and communications technology?  This is the hope and prayer of all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation.



* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman