– Chua Tong Ka
The Malaysian Insider
26 June 2014
Let’s look at the latest cabinet reshuffle.
It rattles me because there was none. We just keep adding numbers.
It seems Malaysia does not have an upper limit on the number of ministers and deputy ministers. The prime minister said a bloated cabinet was unavoidable.
But the issue is not whether it is avoidable or unavoidable. The issue is whether it is tenable or not tenable, workable or not workable and acceptable or unacceptable.
Probably the argument was because of Barisan Nasional’s coalition politics – yes, a coalition of many political parties must try to give ministerial posts to different parties and factions within the coalition.
But is this the essence of coalition politics? I thought we form coalition to formulate policies that are inclusive to cater for diverse people with different needs, not to dish out goodies to pacify different political parties within the coalition.
That is not serving the people but themselves. Sorry for being naive, but sometimes it is good to remind ourselves.
Appointing coalition partners to meaningful positions in the cabinet is different from appointing them as tokens.
Can’t we see excessive tokenism conveys lots of insincerity and dishonesty in the way we organise our government.
Previously, coalition partners were given relatively insignificant cabinet portfolios. Now I think they are given no portfolio except to draw ministerial salary and perks.
I think it is a shame. It is a shame for the PM to do it and it is also a shame for the ministers concerned to accept it.
Is there a limit to the size of the cabinet? It is not just the financial implications we should be concerned with. It is how the government is supposed to work efficiently if we have so many ministers hanging around.
Have we thought about ministers creating hindrances and disservice among themselves because of overlapping and conflict of interests and responsibilities?
I mean 10 full ministers in the PM’s Office alone, in addition to a DPM. How much is UK bigger than Malaysia? What about Australia and Japan? Do they have the number of ministers in the PMO the way we do?
And what do these ministers in the PMO do? They monitor integrity, set KPIs, watch unity, look after Parliament and monitor how people discuss religions, etc.
But are these not the responsibility of PM and the respective ministers concerned? Are we saying the various ministers and the agencies under them need other ministers in the PMO to tell them the importance of integrity and the need for KPIs?
If we can accept Singapore is more efficient and less corrupted than us, please also accept that in Singapore, there are no ministers for integrity and KPIs.
They don’t even have an anti-corruption commission, they only have a bureau. They don’t have a national integrity institute or a minister in charge of integrity. They only have a PM who has the credibility and the authority to get result and enforce compliance.
Seriously, if we want to look at the sincerity of the government, we look at the way it is organised. It is more revealing than listening to speeches and statements made by the government. – June 26, 2014.