New Cabinet most disappointing, as it does not impress Malaysians
as a millennium cabinet but looks very Jurassic
(Penang, Friday): The new Cabinet
announced by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad this evening
is most disappointing, as it does not impress Malaysians as a millennium
cabinet but looks very Jurassic.
by Lim Kit Siang
Many old tired faces remain and even the new Cabinet Ministers like
Datuk Hishammuddin Tun Hussein (Minister for Youth, Culture and Sports),
Datuk Nazri Abdul Aziz (Minister for Entrepreneurial Development), Datuk
Azmi Khalid (Minister for Rural Development) and Datuk Ong Ka Ting (Housing
Minister) have not distinguished themselves as millennium leaders
with an open and liberal outlook who could "break the shackles of the
past" although Hishammuddin was selected by Asiaweek as one of the
20 Asiaís millennium leaders.
Market reaction had been most negative. This is why although the
Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange Composite Index (KLCI) went up some ten points
earlier in the day in anticipation of new Cabinet which could inspire
market confidence, the KLCI immediately fell by five points after the Cabinet
announcement at 4 p.m. - rendering the marketís instant judgment
of the Jurassic cabinet - although it recovered slightly at the end of
trading at 5 p.m.
The new Cabinet line-up is also notable for the following reasons:
The absence of Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah in the Cabinet line-up despite strong
speculation that he would return as Finance Minister.
The failure to form a leaner and smarter Cabinet, by dropping political
deadwoods in the previous Cabinet, so as to inspire confidence in government
leadership in ushering the nation to face the manifold challenges
of the new millennium.
The retention of Datuk Abdul Hamid Othman as Minister in the Prime Ministerís
Department although he was defeated in the polls, highlighting the
grave poverty of UMNO leaders versed in Islam.
The replacement of Datuk Najib Tun Razak in the important cabinet portfolio
of Education Minister by an outsider, Datuk Musa Mohamad, which should
be a "red-light warning" that Najibís political stocks in UMNO are very
low after scraping through in his traditional family seat of Pekan with
only 241-vote majority during the election.
The failure of MCA to get an additional Minister and an additional Deputy
Minister or to get a senior Cabinet post, such as Finance, International
Trade and Industry or Education.
Gerakan is the sole beneficiary with the additional appointment of
Cheah Kwang Chye as Parliamentary Secretary in the Telekoms and Multimedia
Ministry - which is Mahathirís personal thank-you to Kwang Chye for ending
my 30-year parliamentary stint.
The ridiculous situation where a Minister is a Datuk while a Deputy Minister
is a Tan Sri, as in the Transport Ministry - with Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong
Sik as Minister and Tan Sri Ramli Ngah as Deputy Minister. There
should be an end to the conferment of the award of Tan Sri to Mentris Besar
and Chief Ministers.
*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman