Najib’s feckless and uninspiring cabinet

Mariam Mokhtar| May 19, 2013
Free Malaysia Today

Najib is impotent when tackling corruption, or defusing racial and religious tensions. His weakness as a leader is reflected in the Cabinet line-up


Najib Tun Razak’s defence of the Malay daily Utusan Malaysia which displayed a provocative headline, “What more do the Chinese want?” does nothing for national reconciliation, something which Najib promised to address, after GE-13.

Trying his best to placate an increasingly cynical public, Najib vowed to be a prime minister for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, state or political views.

He said, “I love my country …… We will also continue to promote moderation among multiracial Malaysians and place great importance on racial harmony and national unity.”

Despite the sweet talk, he refused to censure Utusan, but said, “You blame Utusan but you don’t ask about the Chinese papers.”

If Najib was adamant that both the Malay and Chinese newspapers were stoking racial hatred, the right thing would have been to punish both papers.

Najib is impotent when tackling corruption, or defusing racial and religious tensions. His weakness as a leader is reflected in the Cabinet line-up.

Musical chairs

When the rakyat complained about rising crime, the former home minister Hishammuddin Hussein ridiculed them and said their “perception” of increased crime was inaccurate. What would Hishammuddin and his family know about crime with round-the-clock security and well-guarded properties?

Hishammuddin’s reaction to the Suluk invasion was to say that the armed militia was just a group of old men having a picnic. At the height of the Sabah incursion, Hishammuddin showed more enthusiasm by donning his shades, and being photographed with Malaysian soldiers.

With Najib treating the running of the country like a child’s game, it was unavoidable that his Cabinet reshuffle resembled a game of “musical chairs”. Najib moved Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the former defence minister, who gained notoriety for his disastrous handling of the Sabah incursion, to the Home Ministry.

White gloves were once used as an anti-corruption symbol, but Zahid’s stance was to say that with gloved hands, he would be unable to “feel” his wife. If Zahid is flippant with issues like corruption, will crime flourish under him? His tenure as defence minister was marked by indecision, prevarication, media blackouts and blaming.

Zahid’s article in Utusan Malaysia caused further outrage when he rebuked the opposition followers and Chinese youth, and told them to emigrate if they were displeased with the outcome of GE-13.

Zahid’s irresponsible comments have scuppered Najib’s attempt at reconciliation. More importantly, Zahid has shamed the Malay community. A home minister who ignores cultural integration and harmony, cannot be expected to start the nation’s healing process.

The daft Zahid lacks tact and diplomacy. If people who are displeased were to leave the country, vacuums would be created in industry, financial institutions, the medical services, commerce and more. It would be simpler for Zahid and his Cabinet colleagues to emigrate as they drain our resources, although they are fewer in number.

Children of Umno Baru

Former de facto law minister Nazri Abdul Aziz assumes his new role as the Tourism and Culture minister. Nazri’s controversial ties with the tycoon Michael Chia and the loan of the latter’s Hummer to Nazri’s son, present a conflict of interest.

Children of Umno-Baru politicians have an attitude problem. Their parents control the public purse, but it is the kids who think they control the rakyat. Will Nazri be as creative as Ng Yen Yen, in abusing taxpayers’ money? Will he waste millions of ringgits in setting up Facebook pages to promote Malaysia?

Using Facebook will risk the ire of Nazri’s Cabinet colleague, the former Perlis Menteri Besar, Shahidan Kassim. Three years ago, Shahidan wanted Facebook to be blocked because it posed a threat to national security. A Facebook account holder had insulted Islam and Malaysian leaders.

Najib has a knack of appointing corrupt men into senior positions. A few years ago, Isa Samad became the Felda chairman whilst yesterday, Umno’s “six million dollar” man, Tajuddin Abdul Rahman was appointed a deputy minister. Tajuddin’s allegedly corrupt deal involved RM1.3 billion ringgits and a 23-year concession to build the Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Tapah campus.

What is the rationale behind Najib’s appointment of Transparency International Malaysia president Paul Low as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department? The MACC is ineffective in resolving corruption issues. Will Low’s appointment spark changes or will he be gagged?

Why does a bloated Prime Minister’s Department (PMD) of around 44,000 people, need eight ministers and two deputies? The excessive manpower suggests that it is a highly inefficient organ.

In some relationships, the dominant spouse can be a destructive element. So has Najib been scarred by personal experience? Is he fearful of women? Why are only two women in Najib’s Cabinet, despite women comprising around 50% of the population?

Najib’s penchant for “back-door politics” will be his undoing. He did it with Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, the former minister for women; now, it was the turn of P Waythamoorthy, whom Najib made a Senator and deputy minister in the PMD.

Secret deal with Waythamoorthy?

The official announcement that Waythamoorthy would return to Malaysia, from exile in London, was released only in July 2012. This writer strongly suspects that Waythamoorthy was holding secret negotiations with Najib, or his aides, in early 2011.

About the time that Najib was going to repeal the ISA, around mid-2011, Waythamoorthy started dropping hints that he would return to Malaysia. Around Christmas 2011, he had a large packing crate which virtually blocked his hallway; however, he denied that he was leaving. Then, he left London at the end of July 2012.

Waythamoorthy’s decision to return to Malaysia was not as spontaneous as he would like us to believe.

If Waythamoorthy and Najib had a pact, then Waythamoorthy’s accusations that Pakatan Rakyat had rejected the Hindraf blueprint and had refused to accede several state and parliamentary seats, are a whitewash. Najib and Waythamoorthy probably conspired to exert maximum damage to Pakatan.

Waythamoorthy’s attempts to strike a deal with Pakatan were nothing more than a sham, designed to waste Pakatan’s time and deceive the public.

Britain is one of the most tolerant countries and years in exile in a country which takes racism seriously, has failed to educate Waythamoorthy. His family were subject to racist attacks but these were promptly dealt with by the authorities. Waythamoorthy has failed to learn from his experience and on his return to Malaysia, chooses to fight racism with his brand of racism.

Waythamoorthy sued the British government which he blames for the present-day plight of the Indians in Malaysia. How foolish will Najib look with a member of his cabinet taking this legal stand against the British government? Will Najib force Waythamoorthy to retract the legal claim especially as delicate trade talks with the British concerning arms are ongoing? If Waythamoorthy refuses, will Najib sack him?

Waythamoorthy’s sense of false pride and smug satisfaction at his new role in BN comes at a high price. He has betrayed the Indian community and belittled his brother’s sacrifice in jail. He has sullied the good intentions of the poor Indians who donated to his cause.

Waythamoorthy may be proud to enjoy a seat in Najib’s Cabinet but he does not have the respect of Malaysians, especially the Indians, whom he claims to represent.

Mariam Mokhtar is a FMT colum

  1. #1 by worldpress on Sunday, 19 May 2013 - 11:00 pm

    It need loyalty like dog to get in

  2. #2 by sheriff singh on Monday, 20 May 2013 - 1:40 am

    I say again. Parliament has not yet met.

    Not one of the 222 MPs-elect has been formally sworn in to serve as a MP. So how can any one of them then be sworn in as Minister or Deputy Minister ?

    Unless specifically provided for under the Constitution and the law, their appointments are questionable maybe even illegal.

  3. #3 by sheriff singh on Monday, 20 May 2013 - 1:53 am

    ”…..Najib’s feckless and uninspiring cabinet…”

    To the rural folks that elected them in, this is their ‘Dream Team’.

  4. #4 by TheOwl711 on Monday, 20 May 2013 - 4:50 am

    Najib truly enjoys using the back door. Ask Altantuya. If he wants to make me a senator and a minister in the PMD I would politely decline (haha not that he would). Why? Bcs I can’t work with dishonest people who have no principles,who lie,cheat and plunder and yet says “I love my country” but you bleed her dry;people whose words cannot be believed for even one second. You gotta be a yes-man all the time. I would be stress out! Truly.

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