Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Friday, 10th April 2009:
Najib Cabinet – dominated by old faces, old ideas and old approach rejected by Malaysian in the March 8 political tsunami last year and endorsed by the Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau by-elections on Tuesday
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak claims that his cabinet announced yesterday is not only a new team with a new face, but also a new approach to administer the country better in a more responsible and transparent manner that focuses on the people.
This is not the perception and reaction of the Malaysian public who find the Najib Cabinet dominated by old faces, old ideas and old approach rejected by Malaysians in the March 8 political tsunami last year and endorsed by the Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau by-elections on Tuesday.
Most of the media headlines screamed “28 Ministers, 40 Deputy Ministers” when actually it should be “29 Ministers, 40 Deputy Ministers”.
How could Najib, with his new slogan of “1Malaysia. People First. Performance Now” make such a small yet colossal mistake?
Has Malaysian educational standards fallen so low after five years of Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein as Education Minister, that the government is incapable of the most simple calculations?
What “Performance Now” when the Najib premiership cannot even count whether there are 28 or 29 Ministers in the Cabinet?
Malaysians were promised a “lean” Cabinet but Najib has 29 Ministers, only two less than the 31 Ministers of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when the fifth Malaysian Prime Minister submitted his resignation to the Yang di Pertuan Agong last Thursday and two more than the last Cabinet appointed by the fourth Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad after the 1999 general elections!
If Najib is serious about a lean and smart Cabinet, he should have trimmed the Cabinet by one third to have not more than 20 Ministers when in contrast, the United Kingdom has a Cabinet of 23 full-rank Ministers, Australia a Cabinet of 20 Ministers and France 17 Ministers.
The eight ministers dropped by Najib are Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar (Home); Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said (Tourism), Senator Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib (Rural and Regional Development), Senator Datuk Amirsham Abdul Aziz (Prime Minister’s Department), Datuk Ong Ka Chuan (Housing and Local Government), Datuk Mohd Zin Mohamed (Works), Datuk Seri Zulhasnan Rafique (Federal Territories) and Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad (Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs).
Instead, Najib appointed seven new Ministers, viz: Gerakan President Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon(Prime Minister), Maj-Gen Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom (Prime Minister), Datuk Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah (Second Finance Minister), Umno Wanita chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil (Women, Family and Community Development), Datuk Anifah Aman (Foreign), Lembah Pantai Umno division chief Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin (Federal Territories) and MCA Vice President Datuk Kong Cho Ha (Housing and Local Government).
The Najib Cabinet makes history as the first Malaysian Cabinet with the most number of “political rejects”, who had been defeated in the general election last year and have to be brought back to Parliament through the “back door” of the Senate - – namely Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil as Ministers Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun and Datuk Dr. Awang Adek Hussin as Deputy Ministers.
This does not speak well for the government’s commitment to accountability and democracy.
The Najib Cabinet is not a forward-looking and visionary Cabinet which inspires Malaysians with hope and confidence that it could rally Malaysians to face the worst global economic risis in a century or unite Malaysians with a common national purpose with Umno leaders increasingly resorting to the divisive and irresponsible politics of 3Rs - race, religion and royalty – as demonstrated by the recent Umno by-election campaigning in Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau.
What can Tsu Koon do as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Unity and Performance Management to rein in the Umno ultras, like Ahmad Said of “Chinese are squatters” infamy?
Can he really check the “Little Napoleons” and “Big Napoleons” in the civil service, apart from the “half-past six” Ministers, when his record as an effective Penang Chief Minister in the past 18 years had been so dismal as to result in Gerakan’s total rejection in last year’s general elections?
Najib talked about introducing key performance indicators (PKI) as a six-monthly requirement for the Cabinet Ministers. Will there be a six-monthly PKI for the Prime Minister and dare Tsu Koon conduct it?
Is Tsu Koon prepared to publicly admit that Najib had chalked up several failures in his first week alone as Prime Minister to measure up to Najib’s new slogan of “1Malaysia. People First. Performance Now”?
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor