Mahathir should seriously consider giving MCA, Gerakan and MIC an additional Minister and Deputy Minister each in view of the Nov. 29 general election result

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Wednesday): Yesterday MCA President Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik said the MCA did not ask for more Cabinet positions, and would be content with the status quo of four ministers, six deputy ministers and two parliamentary secretaries.

However, in view of the 1999 general election result where UMNO suffered an unprecedented setback and had, for the first time, to depend on the other Barisan Nasional component parties to bring in the parliamentary seats, Mahathir should seriously consider giving MCA, Gerakan and MIC an additional Minister and Deputy Minister each.

I also hope that Mahathir would give serious consideration to my proposal that there should be a leaner and smarter 65-member Cabinet instead of the previous  71-member Cabinet comprising 28 Ministers, 31 Deputy Ministers and 12 Parliamentary Secretaries.

I am advocating the overall 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 a lower  UMNO representation in the Cabinet - as having four UMNO Ministers less, while MCA, MIC and Gerakan should each have an additional Minister and Deputy Minister.

Mahathir is taking too long to form the new Cabinet. In fact, he has not been sworn in as Prime Minister yet which is most improper.  Technically, Mahathir should not be forming any Cabinet until and unless he had first been sworn in as Prime Minister by the Yang di Pertuan Agong.

Mahathir must form his Cabinet fast to avoid the government grinding to a halt without a sen of expenditures from 1st January 2000 if the new Parliament fails to pass a contingency vote to cover government expenditures for the first quarter of next year - as it is clearly impossible for the new Parliament to pass the 2,000 budget before December 31, 1999.

The new Parliament must meet either before or after Christmas holidays. If before Christmas, then the Cabinet must be formed in time for the Cabinet Ministers to be sworn in and hold their first meeting to summon two Parliamentary meetings - firstly, to swear in the new MPs and secondly, an emergency Parliamentary meeting to pass a motion to provide contingency funds for the first three months of next year until the 2,000 Budget is passed sometime in February or March next year.

Either Parliament meets on Dec. 20 for the swearing-in of new MPs, followed by say three days of emergency meeting on the motion to provide contingency funds for the first quarter of next month (and the Dewan Negara has also to meet as well) or Parliament can only meet on Dec. 27 or after.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman