Are We Being Served by Half-Past-Six Ministers?

By Kee Thuan Chye
Yahoo! News

Do we have half-past-six ministers running the country? Well, from the utterances of at least three ministers in the last few days, that seems to be so.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Shahidan Kassim put his foot in his mouth when he declared in Parliament last Monday that the electricity and water bills incurred by the prime minister’s official residence in Putrajaya last year – amounting to a staggering RM2.55 million – was among the lowest in the world. And how did he come to this conclusion? Did he make comparisons with other countries?

No, he came to this conclusion based on his own “observation”!

Woooh! RM2.55 million of taxpayers’ money spent and that’s what we get? A personal observation by one of our top public servants that it’s relatively peanuts?

Asked by Opposition MPs for comparisons with the utility bills of the residences of other countries’ leaders, he said he did not have them. “If you want the specifics, you will need to give me time to collect the details,” he said. Which clearly showed he was simply tembak-ing (shooting in the dark).

But how can a minister simply tembak? Has he no regard for the intelligence of his fellow MPs and, worse, that of the rakyat? How can he say the utility bills are among the lowest in the world – in the world, mind you, don’t play-play! – without scientific evidence to back up his claim? Did he pass Form 3 or not?

What also drew derisive laughter that was so loud it could have been heard in Putrajaya was his justification for his observed conclusion. He said the utility bills were relatively low because the country’s top leaders practised the “frugal system”! He even added, “I believe the frugal spending system implemented in Seri Perdana is the best.”

Er … Shahidan, would you have any facts and figures to explain what this “frugal system” is? And why you say it is “the best”?

Does this frugality extend to Prime Minister Najib Razak’s overseas travel expenses in 2011, which amounted to RM10.1 million, and his 10-day visit to London, New York and Washington, DC, in May 2012, which cost taxpayers RM2.9 million?

Is it frugal to spend RM2.9 million on a 10-day trip?

Does it extend to the utility bills of Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin last year being as high as RM964,722?

In the first place, do we need an official residence for the prime minister as big as 17 hectares and that of his deputy as big as 7.3 hectares? Whom are we trying to impress? Even the White House, residence of the president of the United States of America, is smaller than both, at 7.2 hectares.

In view of all of the above, if Shahidan cannot tell us what he means by the so-called “frugal system”, what bullshit is he saying?

Meanwhile, his Cabinet colleague, Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, also sounded like he was talking bullshit last Monday when he defended Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s demolition work at the Sri Muneswarar Kaliyaman Temple. He said the demolition was part of the Government’s plan to “beautify” the temple!

How does demolition reconcile with beautification? Aren’t they actions that are poles apart? Besides, there had been no previous official mention of beautification until now.

More important, is it right for the Government to go into a temple and demolish it because it wants to beautify it? Shouldn’t it discuss the beautification idea with the temple authorities first, and see if the latter are amenable to it? How can the Government simply bulldoze its way into the temple and do what it likes?

What’s the real intention behind the demolition, Adnan? Is it not to get a part of the land the temple is sited on for the developer Hap Seng Consolidated Bhd so that the latter could build something there?

If it is, why don’t you just say so? If it’s legal for Hap Seng to take that bit of land because it owns it, by all means the law must follow its course. Then you should call a spade a spade and say why KL City Hall acted as it did. What would you have to fear if you are following the law? Why must you hide behind the façade of “beautification”?

Furthermore, why must you profess to be an expert on Hindu temples by declaring that the Sri Muneswarar Kaliyaman structure is merely a shrine, not a temple –because, so you said, proper Hindu practices were not incorporated into the construction? The temple was built 100 years ago; you want to dispute the practices that went into its construction now?

In any case, if you say it’s merely a shrine, and therefore of little consequence, why bother to beautify it?

One other thing, Adnan. In saying that you wanted to turn the temple into a tourist attraction by making it like “the four-faced Buddha in Thailand”, you were clearly being insensitive. If you needed to make a comparison, you should have found a Hindu equivalent. How would you have felt if someone had made a comparison between a Malaysian Muslim mosque and a Christian church elsewhere? Would that person have had hell to pay for doing that? Would you have perhaps told that person to emigrate?

No wonder even the deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P. Waythamoorthy has come out to chide you. He says you have “no business in interpreting what constitutes a shrine or temple”. And rightly so.

He adds, pointedly, “As a federal minister, he should respect the feelings and sensitivities of Hindus, instead of justifying an unconscionable act by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall.” You should be grateful he didn’t tell you to emigrate.

Take my advice, Adnan. Next time, tell it like it is. Don’t try and play politics. We know you and your political party are scared of losing Indian support, but if you try to hide the real intention with something that sounds untrue, that’s even worse.

Come to think of it, why do some Indians still want to support your arrogant government? Why did many of them vote for Barisan Nasional (BN) at the last general election? Perhaps it’s time they considered the better option.

Your colleague Jamil Khir Baharom, another minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, is the third official who has given BN a bad name.

Last Monday, in Parliament, he appeared not to know the difference between the 20-point agreement that is supposed to protect Sabah’s rights and interests when it joined Malaysia in 1963, and the 10-point solution that Najib’s Cabinet formulated in 2011 to allow Christians in Sabah and Sarawak to use the word ‘Allah’ for God.

Jamil reportedly said the 10-point solution was the one agreed upon in 1963! He had to be corrected by Opposition MPs.

After being corrected, he went on to confuse everyone by saying that the word ‘Allah’ was exclusive to Muslims in Malaysia according to State-level Islamic laws and that the matter should no longer be disputed after the Court of Appeal’s ruling made last month. He did not shed any light on how this would affect the Christians of Sabah and Sarawak, much to the frustration of Opposition MPs who wanted him to clearly state the Government’s current stand.

When reporters later asked him to state the stand, his pathetic reply was “I have already explained. Don’t confuse me more.” Hahaha! This means he was indeed confused!

If ministers can be so confused and unsure about Government matters, how did they get to be ministers in the first place? That’s something Najib will have to account for.

He will also have to ensure that his ministers are not lax and that they don’t say stupid things, as they have been doing even before the last few days. In Parliament today are among the brightest and sharpest Opposition MPs. They include Rafizi Ramli, Tian Chua, Gobind Singh Deo, Nurul Izzah Anwar, Tony Pua, N. Surendran, Khalid Samad, Liew Chin Tong, Zairil Khir Johari, Ong Kian Ming … and I’m not even mentioning the old warhorses.

Najib’s ministers will have to measure up to them. If they can’t, they will be laughed out of the House. Even worse, at the next general election, they might be dropped from contesting or be duly voted out.

I don’t suppose we’d miss them.

* Kee Thuan Chye is the author of the new book The Elections Bullshit, now available in bookstores.

  1. #1 by Winston on Wednesday, 13 November 2013 - 9:05 pm

    No, not half-past-six!
    Just lunnies!!
    In fact, they are not there to serve.
    So, does it really matters who they put there??

  2. #2 by Cinapek on Thursday, 14 November 2013 - 12:12 am

    Just when you think Jamil Khir Baharom has hit rock bottom with his “Allah” boo-boos, he went one step further to suggest that Islamic Enforcement officers be issued firearms. And sure enough, Trengganu took up his suggestion and went ahead and implemented it.

    But the present crop of BN ministers are just following a long legacy of HP6 ministers. Remember Syed Hamid and his justification of the ISA detention of the Sin Chew reporter? And his explanation that it was dangerous for the police beat base in Chow Kit to explain why they were closed? And what about our current Home Minister who agreed with the IGP that indeed 44 guns fell into the sea without explaining how that could have happened. Were the 44 policemen on a cruise?

  3. #3 by pwcheng on Thursday, 14 November 2013 - 1:09 am

    These are all the descendants from the Mahathir era. Mahathir loves all these guys as he can control them like puppets. Anything above them, will not sustain. To me they are just fillers and leeches as they are paid for talking nonsense and contribute nonsense. I hope the rakyat will ultimately know the quality or non quality of these UMNO people.
    It’s nauseating to hear them speak let alone hoping for them to do something good for the country. Many of them are not even fit to be mandores, though I am sure some will dispute and tell me that they are not fit to be office boys.
    That’s the quality of our UMNO leaders, or for that matter BN leaders. They can only bluff and lie to the rural folks who unfortunately are not well educated and ignorant and that is also the reason why they want to keep our education system rotten so that the people, especially the rural folks will be kept ignorant and backwards and keep on delivering the votes to them.
    The country can go to the dogs so long as they are comfortable with their quest for plundering the country and their corrupt way of life to enrich themselves at the pretext of “Hidup Melayu and Ketuanan Melayu”, Fortunately many Malays are seeing these insidious UMNO tricks and hope this will filter to the rural folks who will finally want to see the demise of UMNO, the moment they can see UMNO is helping all for themselves than helping anybody. For the RM500 to 600 given out, they are taking away millions or billions to be stashed in a foreign country. For the fact that Petronas is only answerable to the PM and the outflow of funds amounting to hundreds of billions of ringgit are clear testimonies of what is happening in the country run by UMNO.

  4. #4 by Noble House on Thursday, 14 November 2013 - 4:22 am

    How else can you describe for certain ministers with this pervasive and irrational fear of cartoons and even street murals? It is as though they were suffering from some kind of phobic disorder that somewhere, somehow a menacing duck is watching them.

  5. #5 by undertaker888 on Thursday, 14 November 2013 - 7:59 am

    No need to say we also know la. With degrees from dubious universities and for hanging on walls only, what do we expect from these tiga-suku ministers? These brown nazis are just showing their feudal powers for all to see. “I say what I want. Who are you to question me?” attitude. Ketuanan la tu.

  6. #6 by boh-liao on Thursday, 14 November 2013 - 8:51 am

    But they r good at MASUKing n COUNTING $$$

  7. #7 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Thursday, 14 November 2013 - 9:23 am

    Half-past six?

    Nah. More like half-baked half-past sixers.

    • #8 by cemerlang on Thursday, 14 November 2013 - 8:04 pm

      If the powerful people are half past six, then the powerless people are one quarter.

  8. #9 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Thursday, 14 November 2013 - 9:28 am

    What exorbitance!

    My guess, whole hse was air-conditioned to UK winter like environment and then every part of the house gets heating so that its not too cold.

  9. #10 by rockdaboat on Thursday, 14 November 2013 - 9:46 am

    Half past six?
    When compared to those from the little red dot, Tong Sampah is a more appropriate description!

  10. #11 by sheriff singh on Thursday, 14 November 2013 - 10:44 am

    They are all from the UMNo cesspool. What were you expecting, Kee?

  11. #12 by tak tahan on Thursday, 14 November 2013 - 10:46 am

    If such half-past six ministers still exist when there is only 7 years to high nation or so-called vison 2020,let’s not talk no more about it lest we end up more disappointed.How in the first place they got to be ministers,really surprise me.One can only guess the more stupid one is the likely one will get to be mininters in Bolehland…land of endless half past six posibility

  12. #13 by tak tahan on Thursday, 14 November 2013 - 10:47 am

    correction->let’s talk no more….

  13. #14 by tak tahan on Thursday, 14 November 2013 - 11:01 am

    One sure great thing about our half past six ministers is that not even one from advance countries can come close as to plunder nation coffer as fast and furious and as bold as well.Something our half past six ministers are ingenious for……and can get away with impunity.

  14. #15 by sheriff singh on Thursday, 14 November 2013 - 11:24 am

    UMNo got No Talent, with very little grey matter. They are a party of easily confused and sensitive people who were brought up to be nothing more but to be mere thugs. These three are some of their ‘gems’.

  15. #16 by tak tahan on Thursday, 14 November 2013 - 11:48 am

    Good la..go well with Rosmah birkin bags when travel in the

  16. #17 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 14 November 2013 - 12:21 pm

    Well the biggest half past six minister is the one that argue that assessment rate has to go up because property prices has gone up.. Assessment rates are used to to collect revenue for expenses of local govt. Saying that it has to go up with property prices is putting the cart before the horse – its simply golden opportunity for the EXCUSE MAKING minds of UMNO/BN

    Assesment rate is tied to property prices because it ASSUMES that if property price goes up, demand for services goes up in a given area and hence local govt expense is going up too.. BUT the fact of the matter is our local govt services HAS ONLY GOTTEN WORST and there is no additional services – garbage is privatized, sewerage is privatized, – even traffic offences was nearly privatized. What additional services is provided with higher property prices? Marginal at best..

    Face it, its a golden nonsense wet-dream of an excuse by UMNO/BN especially with voters they know will never support them ever again..

  17. #18 by yhsiew on Thursday, 14 November 2013 - 1:06 pm

    Vision 2020 looks remote when the country is helmed by such infantile-minded ministers.

  18. #19 by Sallang on Thursday, 14 November 2013 - 3:25 pm

    What 10 points, 20 points? Why support the proposal to make History a ‘must pass’ subject, when they themselves find it not so important to know.

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