Side Views

Eyeing both Umno polls and GE14, a new Cabinet forms – The Malaysian Insider

May 15, 2013

MAY 15 – Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s choices for his new Cabinet named today appear dictated by elections – the Umno polls later this year and concern that Sabah and Sarawak will not tolerate any more snubbing in the government.

Including both minister and deputy minister posts, the prime minister rewarded Umno with 18 posts (including the party’s lawmakers in Sabah) and also gave East Malaysia 13 posts.

But with the exception for Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaludidn and technocrat Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar, it’s the same old, same old.

There were no exceptional faces, unless you count Transparency International chief Datuk Paul Low as a minister, the only Chinese in the Cabinet. Or Hindraf chairman P. Waytha Moorthy as a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department to reward the Indian vote.

Fact is, there was too much consideration given to rewarding those who gave victory to Barisan Nasional (BN), i.e. Umno and East Malaysia. The MCA had given up their seats although one, Transport, has been reserved for them.

Najib could have experimented by putting in new faces rather than those like Umno and BN secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor and Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili; or non performers such as Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah and Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

The other non performers in the past Cabinet include Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Like Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi before him in 2004, Najib appears to have stocked the Cabinet in order to secure the Umno presidency.

The prime minister better known as Pak Lah of course never did much with the Cabinet even after winning the top Umno post, which led to the Election 2008 massive losses.

But Najib is better than Pak Lah.

Muhyiddin’s power has been halved by sharing the Education Ministry with Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh and all the senior ministers are Najib’s men.

Also, Johor only has Muhyiddin and Hishammuddin in the Cabinet now when they used to have six before. That will count for something if there is a race for the top Umno post.

And what is Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim doing in the Cabinet? It is disappointing and unlikely to inspire confidence that things will change in the country with such a Cabinet.

For sure, one Khairy does not a summer make... not with this Cabinet.