Zainuddin Maidinís appointment as Deputy Information Minister unhealthy and unprecedented abuse of power and waste of public funds
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): On his return from Paris yesterday, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said he appointed Datuk Dr. Jamaluddin Jarjis as second Finance Minister to help reduce his workload as Finance Minister but he is still in charge and responsible for the ministry.
Nobody really doubts that Mahathir will continue to have the full and final say in the Finance Ministry, when it is clear that he is also having the full and final say on home affairs and education, although these ministries nominally have their own Ministers, the former headed by the Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi himself while the latter headed by Tan Sri Musa Mohamad.
What is most controversial and unjustifiable are the promotions of Tengku Datuk Adnan bin Tengku Mansor from Deputy Minister to Minister in the Prime Ministerís Department and Datuk Zainuddin Maidin from parliamentary secretary to Deputy Minister in the Information Ministry, which are unhealthy and unpredented abuse of power and gross waste of public funds.
Before the appointment of Jarjis Jamaluddin and Adnan to expand the Cabinet strength to 29 Ministers, Malaysia already has the biggest Cabinet in the Commonwealth Parliament in terms of population.
What is the rationale and justification, apart from ďjobs for the boysĒ and packing the Cabinet with more of his loyalists before he steps down as Prime Minister next October, for the appointment of Adnan as the fourth Minister in the Prime Ministerís Department, after Datuk Seri Dr. Rais Yatim, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok and Senator Datuk Abdul Hamid bin Haji Zainal Abidin?
Never before in the 45-year history of Malaysia has there been a quartet of Ministers appointed in the Prime Ministerís Department. Malaysian taxpayers are entitled to know why they should foot the bill for an unprecedented fourth Minister in the Prime Ministerís Department in the last 11 months of Mahathirís tenure as Prime Minister!
The appointment of Zainuddin Maidin as another Deputy Information Minister (nobody knows whether he would be second to the longest-serving Deputy Information Minister Datuk Khalid Yunus or the other way round) is even more unjustifiable and a greater waste of public funds.
Again, never before in Malaysian government history has there been two deputy ministers appointed for the Information Ministry, which ranks among the dozen less important ministries, whether in terms of functions or annual budgetary allocations.
For the 2003 Budget for instance, the 12 Ministries with the most budgetary allocations and all exceeding RM2,000 million, are:
Why should the Information Ministry, which is allocated an annual budget next year of RM847 million, have two Deputy Ministers when only the Prime Ministerís Department, Education, Home, Local Government/Housing and Finance Ministries have two Deputy Ministers and more important Ministries with bigger allocations like Defence, Health, Public Works, Agriculture and Rural Development have only one Deputy Minister each?
Zainuddin Maidinís appointment as Deputy Information Minister may be important for UMNO and Barisan Nasional to pump propaganda poison through the RTM and other information channels, but it is clearly not in the interest of Malaysians or the nation.
We have already seen Zainuddinís irresponsible misuse of government resources and abuse of power in the biased, tendentious and malicious propaganda features against the Opposition and independent-minded NGOs, like the latest Barisan Nasional propaganda feature ďBahaya CauvinismeĒ camouflaged as prime-time news over public television in a below-the-belt attack on DAP and Dong Jiao Zong, falsely painting them as anti-national, unpatriotic and anti-Malay.
As there is no justification for the appointment of four Ministers in the Prime Ministerís Department and two Deputy Ministers for the Information Ministry, Mahathir should set a good example of public austerity with a reshuffle to ensure that the Cabinet does not increase the taxpayersí burden by trimming the Cabinet to at least its previous strength.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman