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Where’s your shadow, BN?

 | July 2, 2012

A PKR leader says BN leaders cannot be dictating the terms on this since they have no shadow Cabinets in the Pakatan-run states.

KUALA LUMPUR: Dismissing the arguments of a Barisan Nasional MP as “stupid and foolish”, a PKR leader pointed out the absence of shadow Cabinets in the four Pakatan Rakyat-controlled states.

Subang MP R Sivarasa was responding to BN Kota Belud MP Abdul Rahman Dahlan who criticised the opposition for not revealing its federal shadow Cabinet list.

“We [BN] backbenchers are defending the government on various issues but at the same time, I would also want to question their [Pakatan] shadow Cabinet ministers but the problem is that I don’t know who they are. I also want to ask them tough questions,” Abdul Rahman told FMT.

“Tell us, in Sabah, what’s your economic plan. All this is because [Opposition Leader] Anwar Ibrahim knows he can’t get the right men for the job or he is ‘waiting’ for the right person,” he said.

However, Sivarasa said since the opposition was not governing the nation, the onus was not on Pakatan but rather BN to respond to issues.

“This is Politics 101 and these guys are confused and we should send them back to university. It seems like they know that they are going to lose, then you wait for our ministers to be appointed.

“But [what Abdul Rahman is saying] is quite a stupid response, it is quite foolish. They have a deluded sense of reality that we are in England or Australia,” he added.

He said in the Westminster parliament and Australia, shadow Cabinets were “institutionalised”.

“Meaning that they have the full resources of a ministry. For example, the Australian shadow Cabinet has 140 government staff to back it, paid by the public purse.

“You must have that to function as a shadow Cabinet. Else you have a shadow Cabinet which does not have an impact, can’t do research, plan or present their viewpoints,” he added.

Asked if Pakatan would institutionalise shadow Cabinets if it came into power, Sivarasa said: “If Pakatan becomes government I think we should do it. It is a good thing.”

Shadow committees were sufficient

At present, he said, the opposition had shadow committees with a representative from each of the three Pakatan parties for each ministry and this was sufficient.

“Elections are won or lost on the basis of what the opposition has to offer in new approaches in policies of governance and so on, not based on personalities,” he added.

Sivarasa also dismissed BN leaders’ calls for a Pakatan shadow Cabinet, saying the former was not qualified to dictate terms.

“We don’t have to [show them our Cabinet], because they don’t even have that in the four states they lost. They are the last people who should talk about a shadow Cabinet,” he said.

He pointed out that even in Selangor’s Public Accounts Committee, Pakatan decided that an opposition leader from BN should chair it but the latter declined to do so.

The shadow Cabinet issue re-surfaced following a FMT article which revealed the purported list based on the input of a Pakatan MP and the writer’s own observations.

However, Sivarasa said Pakatan leaders did not take this seriously, adding that he was once even named as a potential deputy prime minister.

Meanwhile, Abdul Rahman said unless an official announcement was made by Pakatan, the existence of this shadow Cabinet was merely based on “speculation” and as such would not change the current political dynamics.

“As it is right know, they (Pakatan) do not believe in the two-party system, although they claim to. You can’t even decide if you have two, three or five deputy prime ministers, which is what they were talking about previously as they promised Sabah and Sarawak too.

“You can’t even get that right and you like to hide behind this phrase ‘agree to disagree’,” he said.

He added that the opposition was demanding for a “first class government” but were hardly “first class” themselves.

Abdul Rahman said he was all for a “strong” two party system but was disappointed that the opposition was “not up for it”.

‘They are working on the list’

Weighing in on the matter, Segambut MP (DAP) Lim Lip Eng believed that Pakatan would announce the list once parliament was dissolved.

“I think they are drawing up the list but they don’t want to announce it as yet,” he added.

Lim was also “very confident” that Pakatan would form the next federal government based on the current sentiments of the voters.

Even if the opposition seized control of Putrajaya, the DAP politician said he would prefer to be a backbencher as opposed to holding ministerial portfolios.

As a backbencher, Lim said, he would be able to monitor and check the new government.

“Even if my comrade is made a minister and deputy minister and he or she messes up, I will be the first one to criticise them in and outside parliament,” he added.


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