Mahathir should form a leaner Cabinet, reducing the number of Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries with lesser UMNO representation to reflect the election result last Monday

Media Conference Statement
during his thank-the-voters visit to Bukit Bendera/Kebun Bunga
Lim Kit Siang 

(Penang,  Sunday): Although Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad claimed after Monday’s general election results that the Barisan Nasional had won more seats in Parliament than it did in 1995 general election, this was not true.

In 1995, Barisan Nasional won 161 Parliamentary seats but on Monday’s general election the Barisan Nasional only won 148 Parliamentary seats - a reduction of 13 seats.

Barisan Nasional’s defeat on Monday is basically UMNO’s defeat, as UMNO lost 16 Parliamentary seats as compared to 1995 when it won  88 Parliamentary seats.  On Monday’s election, UMNO won only 72 Parliamentary seats.

For the first time in UMNO’s history, Barisan Nasional had to depend on the other Barisan Nasional component parties to bring in the Parliamentary seats.

UMNO was totally wiped out in Trengganu (8 parliamentary seats), retained only one out of 14 seats in Kelantan and in Kedah, PAS won more parliamentary seats than UMNO - 8 PAS and 7 UMNO.

UMNO’s defeat at the state assembly level is even more devastating, losing a staggering number of 55 seats as compared to 1995. UMNO won 231 state assembly seats in the Peninsular Malaysia states but could only win 176 on Monday’s election.

A closer study of the election results show that UMNO nearly lost Perlis and Kedah state governments.   In Perlis, where PAS won three out of the 15 seats, PAS would have formed the Perlis state government if it had won another five seats, which it lost with narrow majorities ranging from 248 to 819 votes.  In Kedah, where PAS won 12 out of 36 seats, it would have formed the Kedah state government if it had won another seven seats, which it lost with narrow majorities ranging from 261 to 2,922 votes.  Even in Pahang, where the Barisan Alternative won eight seats out of 38, the Barisan Nasional could have even lost the state government, as BN won 11 seats with less than 1,000-vote majority (with six seats having razor-thin majorities ranging from 86 to 321 votes) and another  six seats with majorities ranging between 1,038 to 1,305 votes.

The new post-election Cabinet to be formed, should reflect the election result of November 29, 1999 where UMNO secured only 48.6 per cent of the Barisan Nasional parliamentary seats as compared to 54.7% in the 1995 general election.

The 13-hour closure of the North-South Expressway three days after Monday’s poll at Km 449.6 near Sungai Buloh as a result of mudslide reflecting the failure of the authorities to monitor and enforce the laws to maintain highland stability should be reminder to Mahathir of the need to have a lean but competent Cabinet to deal with the challenges of the new millennium - and not to have Ministers who blame God for their own failures.

In the last Parliament, there was a 71-member Cabinet comprising 28 Ministers, 31 Deputy Ministers and 12 Parliamentary Secretaries.

This 71-member Cabinet should be reduced to a leaner 65-member team, with the reduction of one Minister, three Deputy Ministers and two Parliamentary Secretaries as experience have shown that many Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries warm their seats and collect their Ministerial pay without do any much work - not even attending Parliament meetings to account for their responsibilities.

As UMNO’s parliamentary representation in the Barisan Nasional has fallen from 54.7 per cent in 1995 to 48.6% in the latest election, this should be reflected by its representation in the Cabinet.

In the last Parliament, UMNO had 17 Ministers, 18 Deputy Ministers and 6 Parliamentary Secretaries, making a total of 41 out of 71-strong government front-bench - or 57.8%.

With the reduction of UMNO’s parliamentary representation in the Barisan Nasional from 54.7 per cent in 1995 to 48.6 per cent on Monday’s election, UMNO’s representation in a new 65-strong  government front-bench should be 28 - comprising probably 13 Ministers, 12 Deputy Ministers and three Parliamentary Secretaries.

There should correspondingly be an increase of Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries for other Barisan Nasional component parties which had done better than UMNO in the  Nov. 29, 1999 general election.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman