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The post of “Deputy EXCO” in Negeri Sembilan: Unconstitutional and Downright Ridiculous!

Media Press Statement
by Loke Siew Fook

(Seremban, Thursday): The announcement by Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri Mohamad Hasan to appoint 18 Barisan Nasional State Assemblymen to be Vice Chairmen of the enlarged State EXCO portfolios is unconstitutional and totally disrespect to the doctrine of separation of power. The State Cabinet or EXCO is currently made up of 1 Menteri Besar and 10 State Executive Councilors comprising 14 portfolios. The state government decided to enlarge the EXCO to 16 portfolios.

The appointment of the 18 Assemblymen to be Vice Chairmen of the various Action Committees (Jawatankuasa Bertindak) in the 16 portfolios is unconstitutional as there is no provision in the State Constitution which provide the power for the Menteri Besar to make such appointments. The State Constitution on this matter reads as below:

            XXXV111. (2) The Executive Council shall be appointed as follows, that is to say-

                                    (b) He (The Ruler) shall on the advise of the Menteri Besar appoint

                                        not more than ten nor less than four other members from among

                                       the members of the Legislative Assembly

It is clear that the appointment of Vice Chairmen of the various portfolios in the State EXCO is not provided for in the State Constitution or any other state legislation. It is tantamount to misuse of power in the part of the Menteri Besar to make the appointments.

What is more disturbing is the fact that the Speaker of the State Legislative Assembly is appointed as the Vice Chairman of the State Islamic Affairs Action Committee. The Speaker of the House, although he might form the ruling party, must be neutral and independent in the conduct of the Assembly business. The Speaker must be independent from the Executive and it is completely downgrading for the Office of the Speaker to be appointed as the Deputy to an EXCO member. Isn’t this tantamount to conflict of interest in the part of the Speaker?

The other “first” created by the Negeri Sembilan State Legislative Assembly is that it is probably the only Legislative Assembly in the world which has a made-up of 8:2 between Executive and Legislative! The current State Assembly has 36 members which made up of 1 Speaker, 1 Menteri Besar, 10 EXCO members and 24 Legislative members. With the appointment of the other 17 Legislative members as the “Deputy EXCO”, it make up to a total of 29 members in the Executive arm and left only 7 members in the Legislative arm in the State Assembly.

This is a total mockery to the principle of separation of power and against the sprit of parliamentary democracy. Put aside the fact that the BN Backbenchers will never dare to

question the Executive arm, the spirit of parliamentary democracy is that the Executive must be answerable and accountable to the Legislative. With 29 members out of 36 as part of the Executive, how can one expect any balance of power in the Legislative Assembly?

On the reshuffling of portfolio involving Datuk Jamlus Aziz the EXCO member who was formerly in-charge of Energy, Water, Communication and Rural Development to a more junior portfolio of Youth and Sports is equivalent to a demotion. His demotion has confirmed the merit of my Motion of No-Confidence in the last Assembly sitting (the motion was rejected by the Speaker) to Jamlus as he was totally unable to carry out his duties in handling the worst-ever water crisis in Negeri Sembilan. This demotion has shown that even the Menteri Besar has no confidence in his ability to solve the water crisis and he shall be held accountable for all the hardships caused to the people of Seremban. If Jamlus has any principle left as a politician, he shall immediately resign from the State Executive Council!

The MCA Assemblyman for Lukut Datuk Dr. Yeow Chai Thiam should reject the appointment as a “Deputy EXCO” if he is a man of principle. Yeow was a three-term EXCO member but was dropped after the last general election. However, no one will be surprised if he accepts the post as this will only demonstrate that MCA leaders have no principles whatsoever and they only care most for government positions. If Yeow decided to accept the post, this will only show that MCA leaders are so easily “kow tim” and continue to “kow tow” to their UMNO masters. The appointments of 4 Team B and 1 Team A MCA Assemblymen to the post of Vice Chairmen in the EXCO portfolios showed that these appointments are merely created to manage and suppress the serious in-fighting for government posts within Negeri Sembilan MCA.

The reasons for the appointments of Vice Chairmen in the EXCO portfolios as to increase efficiency and enhance state administration are totally ridiculous. The organizational trend throughout the world is to downsize the organization to make it more manageable and not the other way round. These appointments are merely to create more government positions for BN reps and in the process create more “money-making” machines for the members of the ruling party.

It is a total mockery for the Menteri Besar to talk about efficiency when most of the Assemblymen appointed are “not up to the mark” and have not shown any leadership qualities. For instance, the first-term Gerakan Assemblyman for Bukit Kepayang Chan Kee Voon who was appointed as one of the Vice Chairmen has not uttered a single word in the State Assembly so far. In the last 18 months since the last general elections, the Assembly has met for 5 sittings. In the last 5 sittings, Chan has never taken part in a single debate, give a single idea nor raise in a single issue and in total only asked 8 trivial questions in the last 18 months! What efficiency the MB is talking about?

The Menteri Besar also owes the public an urgent explanation on how all the “Deputy EXCO” is remunerated? I will reserve my comments in this matter until the Menteri Besar give the details as any penny spent from the state coffer to remunerate them is totally unlawful as it is never appropriated for in this year’s Budget.


* Loke Siew Fook, DAP Negeri Sembilan State Chairman and State Assemblyman for Lobak

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