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Pakatan’s shadow cabinet: A rush job?

 | June 25, 2012

Our writer doubts the authenticity of the list given in a recent FMT report.

Pakatan Rakyat should have announced its shadow cabinet soon after the 2008 general election. It is now too late, of course, with the next election expected within months.

Nevertheless, according to a Pakatan MP, the coalition is getting ready for taking over Putrajaya with a sort of tentative Cabinet line-up, as reported by FMT on June 23.

The list provided by the unnamed MP is so disappointing that it is doubtful that it comes anywhere near to being authoritative. It is as if Pakatan is so desperate to come up with a list that it has resorted to doing a rush job.

To start with, it is surprising that Mohamad Sabu, PAS’s deputy president, is nowhere on the list. Perhaps he is being considered for a menteri besar’s post. Some Pakatan supporters would argue that this would be a waste of his national popularity.

Another surprise is the designation of Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat as Race Relations and Inter-Faith Dialogue Minister. The political situation in Kelantan is such that he would still be much needed as chief executive of the state. Is Pakatan thinking of asking him to hold two jobs at once? That would not be wise considering his age and his workload in Kelantan, which is not a small state.

Here are some other comments on the list provided by the unnamed Pakatan MP:

  • Naming Nizar Jamaluddin as one of the finance ministers would raise eyebrows among those who consider him as the menteri-besar-in-waiting for Perak. Even if there is already a suitable candidate for that job and there is good reason for moving him to the federal level, he should be in the Works Ministry because he is a civil engineer who used to handle projects in various foreign countries. Indeed, it is surprising that an important institution like the Works Ministry has been left out of the list altogether.
  • Senator S Ramakrishnan (DAP), a trained accountant, should be one of the finance ministers. Pakatan will need an Indian presence in that ministry because it should expect the emergence of a lot of small and medium Indian entrepreneurs if it takes over Putrajaya.
  • It is strange that Dr Hatta Ramli (PAS), Liew Chin Tong (DAP) and Tian Chua (PKR) are named for the Defence Ministry and not Saifudin Nasution (PKR), who once worked as political secretary there.
  • The Law Ministry looks impressive, but why have both Karpal Singh (DAP) and son Gobind Singh Deo (DAP) been named for the same ministry? Is Pakatan so short of talented lawyers? PKR vice-president N Surendran’s name should be in as he is one of the most active human rights lawyers in the country. With his vast experience and considering his age, Karpal should be the Dewan Rakyat speaker.
  • The Health Ministry is full of MPs who are physicians. But why has PKR vice-president and former health minister Chua Jui Meng been left out? Could it be because he is not a doctor? What about his experience of running the ministry for a number of years? A new minister would take months to understand the vast bureaucracy that comes under the Health Ministry.
  • Why must Baru Bian be the one to improve the transport system in Sarawak? Why not Chong Chieng Jien (DAP), Wong Ho Leng (DAP-Sibu) or Hiew King Chew (DAP)? Baru Bian is supposed to be the new Sarawak Chief Minister.
  • Teresa Kok is named for the International Trade and Industry Ministry. That is fine, but the time has come for Pakatan figures holding two legislative seats to give up one of them. In Kok’s case, she has been impressive in her role as a senior executive councillor for Selangor, but her attendance in Parliament has suffered.
  • Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim is also named for this ministry. People familiar with the goings-on in Selangor Pakatan know that there is no way both Khalid and PKR deputy president Azmin Ali can be cabinet ministers at the same time. If Anwar Ibrahim decides to move Khalid to the Cabinet, then Azmin will be the new Selangor Menteri Besar.
  • Lim Guan Eng has been doing so well as Chief Minister of Penang that it defies logic why anyone would think of making him Foreign Minister – unless Pakatan thinks it is going to lose Penang in the coming election.
  • Why is Pakatan retaining the Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Ministry? Since 2008, it has been loudly saying that it is a waste of public funds and proposing instead that the Mayor of Kuala Lumpur be appointed through an election.
  • Even if the Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Ministry is retained, Nurul Izzah Anwar (PKR) should not be the one helming it. With her talent and character, she should be in charge of a ministry that takes care of national concerns. Nurul Izzah could be offered as Women Minister because one of the main issues the ministry has to deal with is social problems affecting young women.
  • It is interesting that for the Environment Ministry, two of the people named are somewhat at odds over the Lynas issue. It defies the imagination how the vehemently anti-Lynas Fuziah Salleh (PKR) will be able to work with Che Rosli Che Mat (PAS), who has said that the Lynas plant in Gebeng does not emit dangerous levels of radiation.
  • Naming state legislators such as Husam Musa (PAS) for the International Trade and Industry Ministry, Ng Suee Lim (DAP) for the Agriculture Ministry, Elizabeth Wong (PKR) for the Foreign Ministry and V Sivakumar (DAP) for the Race Relations and Inter-Faith Dialogue Ministry gives an impression that Pakatan lacks MPs who are qualified enough to take up positions in the Federal Cabinet. This impression cannot be correct. If Pakatan takes over Putrajaya, it will have at least 112 MPs to choose from. It is not clear whether Pakatan intends to field these figures for both state and parliamentary seats. Supporters might not agree to this because they would want their representatives to be able to concentrate on their duties.
  • Neither would it be a good idea to move some of the more effective state assemblymen or executive councillors to the federal level.
  • While it’s commendable to have a Race Relations and Inter-Faith Dialogue Ministry, it is strange that there is no Islamic Affairs Ministry to cater to the needs of the majority Muslims. Other important ministries such as Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, Energy, Water and Communication, Rural Development, Human Resources, and Housing and Local Government have also been left out.
  • Pakatan is not short of current MPs to be named to head these ministries. Dr Mohd Hayati Osman (PAS), S Manickavasagam (PKR), Wan Rahim Wan Abdullah (PAS), Charles Santiago (DAP), Teo Nie Ching (DAP), Loke Siew Fook (DAP), Mohd Yusmadi Yusof (PKR), Nasir Zakaria (PAS), Chong Chieng Jien (DAP), Wong Ho Leng (DAP), Hiew King Chew (DAP) and Ahmad Kassim (PKR) among the MPs that are nowhere on the list.
  • The Prime Minister and Home Minister must be from different parties. This is to ensure a balance of power.
  • Naming five Indians from DAP in the line-up looks rather unbalanced. R Sivarasa is the only Indian from PKR who is on the list. Two of the party’s most prominent leaders – Surendran and Manickavasagam – are left out.
  • It is also disappointing that three Pakatan MPs from Sabah and Sarawak are left out of the list. It is as if Pakatan is shooting itself in the foot. So the list provided cannot have genuinely come from the Pakatan leadership.

Also read:

Pakatan’s ‘shadow cabinet’ list

Pakatan’s eye on Putrajaya hinges on Sarawak


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