Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, 9th April 2009:
Najib Cabinet failed to live up to the hype of “lean” though it may be “mean”, completely overshadowed by the ghost of Altantuya after the morning’s High Court conviction and death sentence for the C4 murder
Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s Cabinet failed to live up to the hype of “lean” though it may be “mean”, setting a dubious Cabinet record of using the “back door of Parliament” to bring into the government the biggest crop of defeated candidates in the previous general election – namely Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun and Datuk Dr. Awang Adek Hussin which does not speak well for the government’s commitment to accountability and democracy.
If Najib wants the Cabinet to be really “lean”, he should have slashed the 32-strong Abdullah Ministers by at least one-third!
All the blurb about downsizing Abdullah’s second 67-strong Cabinet (32 Ministers and 35 Deputy Ministers) has not really borne fruit, as Najib has produced a bigger 68-strong Cabinet with 28 Ministers and 40 Deputy Ministers although there are four Ministers less.
Najib has appointed even more Ministers and Deputy Ministers than Mahathir’s last Cabinet after the 1999 general election, when there were only 27 Ministers and 27 Deputy Ministers, together with 15 Parliamentary Secretaries.
Najib’s unveiling of his Cabinet has set another record, being the worst public relations (PR) disaster in the nation’s history.
Najib’s P.R. advisers should be sacked for it was completely overshadowed by the ghost of murdered Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu after the morning’s High Court conviction and death sentence for policemen Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar for her C4 murder.
The majority of those who watched Najib’s live-telecast announcement of his Cabinet were not interested in his 15-minute statement on KPI (key performance index) for his Ministers, with the Altantuya murder case uppermost in their minds, and all they wanted to know with growing impatience was his new list of Ministers.
Najib’s Cabinet cannot convince Malaysians that the country has a new Ministerial team which can be serious in the three Najib mottos of “1 Malaysia. People First. Performance Now”.
Although Najib does not want to have Ministers with political baggages, there is not only the question as to which member of his Cabinet can claim to be free from baggage, there is the even bigger question as to which Cabinet Minister has more baggage than Najib himself!
Unlike his predecessor, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Najib failed in his highly-publicised attempt to recruit any prestigious member from the corporate sector to join his Cabinet.
The Cabinet appointment which has evoked the greatest interest is not a Minister but a Deputy Minister – the appointment of Datuk Mukriz Mahathir as Deputy Minister for International Trade and Industry and the conspicuous omission of Khairy Jamaluddin, the Umno Youth leader.
This reinforces public perception that Najib is under thumb of former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad as well as raises the question as to why Khairy, who is publicly accused by Mahathir of being corrupt, could continue as Umno Youth leader when he is not fit to be a member of the Cabinet – just like the question asked by Malaysians how Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam could continue to be Malacca Chief Minister when he was not qualified to contest for Umno deputy president because of his involvement in money-politics corruption!
In Najib’s Cabinet, Sabah is the biggest winner and Sarawak the biggest loser – as Sabah has four Ministers while Sarawak only two. Clearly, Najib does not appreciate the Batang Ai by-election victory of the Barisan Nasional on Tuesday.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor