One of the interesting aspects in yesterday announcement of the new cabinet is the appointment of Shahrizat as special advisor to the prime minister with the status of a minister on women and social development affairs. (see Malaysiakini report on this).
However, in the full list of cabinet released yesterday, Ng Yen Yen of MCA was listed as the Minister of women, family and community Development affairs.
Women affairs is very important ministry as more than half of our population is from the fairer sex. But to have 2 ministers doing the same thing is not sensible.
The 2 positions are redundant. Shahrizat was quite well liked , and hardworking too. Unfortunately, she lost in the last general election . If her expertise is needed to ensure a continuity of the ministry, she could probably be made just an advisor to the Ministry without being given a Ministerial rank. As it stands, with 2 ministers covering the same scope of duty, if there is a policy clash over women matters, who will have the last say?? There is a Chinese saying that a mountain cannot have 2 tigers.
Besides, to appoint an extra minister, it would cost the rakyat at least 7 figure every year in tax money. The basic remuneration aside, a minister is given allowance in almost everything. Besides, a minister is assigned official driver , bodyguard, police officer in attendance, a political sec who himself is given an official car and driver, a SUSK (Setiausaha sulit Kanan), a SUS ,a press sec, clerical staff and so on. All these staff in turn are given allowances to accompany their boss on his trip outstation or overseas. A minister also commands special allowances to give out to the people ( in most cases, these allowances are channelled to supporters and cronies), not to mention the pension of the minister and his staff, health and medical expenses, overseas trips ……………………..$$$$$$………
It would be good to trim down the number of ministers further. Even developed country with bigger population than Malaysia do not have as many ministers as Malaysia. We now have 32 compared with United Kingdom which has only 22 full ministers. Do not forget United Kingdom has more than 60 million population and has a budget many times bigger than ours.
In fact, I thought this is the best time to chop and trim the cabinet to about 22, and give more to East Malaysia which was given only about 10 % of ministerial post. According to Malaysiakini report, of the 32 posts, Umno has the lion share, a total of 22, while MCA (4), MIC (1), PBB (1), Supp (1), Upko (1) and PBS (1). This is despite the fact that UMNo has just slightly more than 50% of all BN MPs.
I would say that by looking at the cabinet appointment, it is still a case of UMNO’s hegemony and dominance over other component parties. They still have not learned the lesson.
By trimming down the cabinet further, the PM could have send a signal of his intention to cut down unnecessary expenses and waste-age. It could have signalled a new resolve to spend carefully the money of the people. It could have sent a message to factions that PM does not entertain factional interest any more but only the interest of the people. The money saved could have been used to build schools and subsidise the poor and needy for food …. He just missed the boat! What a pity!
I think the PM is still being bogged down by factional interests and politics of patronage.