DAP calls for freeze until parliamentary approval for  the appointment  of Effendi Norwawi as Higher Education Envoy with Ministerial  status, as it   undermines the principles of parliamentary responsibility and Cabinet accountability of Ministers

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Friday): The appointment of former Agriculture Minister Datuk Seri Effendi Norwawi as Higher Education Envoy with Ministerial status undermines the principles of parliamentary responsibility and Cabinet accountability of Ministers, as he is not a Member of Parliament and does not have to attend Cabinet meetings. 

His appointment could not have come at a worse time, when the 2004 general election pledge of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for accountability, transparency and good governance has come under a cloud because of the arrogant, high-handed and opaque attitude of the Works Minister, Datuk Seri S.Samy Vellu in the mishandling of the RM238 million Middle Ring Road Two (MRR2) Kepong flyover closure scandal, causing sufferings to hundreds of thousands of Malaysians.


Abdullah should not easily forget that despite his landslide  March general election victory giving him an unprecedented nine-tenth parliamentary majority, his first Cabinet was greeted with nation-wide dismay and disapproval, not only for his retention of unpopular Ministers but for its jumbo size of 93 Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries – or almost every one of two Barisan Nasional MPs.


Now, there is another appointment with Cabinet rank but not in Parliament or Cabinet, whose functions are so vague and unclear that the  Chief Secretary to the Government, Tan Sri Samsudin Osman, is quite in the dark about the purpose of such an appointment, this morning pleading for “more time to refine the contract terms for Effendi”, before framing the letter of offer to Effendi as Higher Education Envoy with Ministerial status.

All that is known about Effendi’s duties are “to promote the country as a hub of education” which  include “meeting with foreign academicians and government leaders to plan collaboration in education and seek bilateral initiatives in research and development”.  Strangely enough, Effendi will not be answerable to the Higher Education Minister, Datuk Dr. Shafie Salleh, but to the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak.  Has the education portfolio been divided, not only into two Ministries, but into three or four separate empires after the March general election?


Is this vague  job specification justification enough for the creation of a special super post with Cabinet status, virtually answerable to no one?


DAP calls for the freeze on the creation of the super Cabinet-rank post of Higher Education Envoy until Parliament has the opportunity to fully debate and approve it, as well as the implications of similar  appointments on the principles of Cabinet and parliamentary responsibility..


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman