DAP welcomes establishment of Ministry for Higher Education but deplores the failure for the first Abdullah Cabinet to live up to the reputation of an Integrity Cabinet with the retention of four Ministers who have not been able to clear themselves of the taint of corruption or serious allegations of abuses of power and malpractices, viz: Rafidah, Samy Vellu, Ka Ting and Nazri Aziz
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was late by one hour in announcing his new Cabinet list from his scheduled media conference fixed at 11.30 a.m. this morning.
Despite his attempt to explain for the hour-long delay, which is most weak and not credible at all, it is clear that there was intense pressure and horse-trading to influence the Cabinet selection well past the deadline. This does not augur well for the Abdullah premiership despite the unprecedented nine-tenth parliamentary majority won by the new Prime Minister on Sunday’s 2004 general election.
DAP welcomes the establishment of the new Ministry of Higher Education, which we had repeated proposed as higher education and its quality are important determinants in the nation’s international competitiveness and rightful place in the era of globalization and information and communication technologies. However, such an innovation would not be very useful unless the government is prepared to fully restore the primacy of meritocracy to make Malaysia’s universities internationally-recognised as among the world’s best universities and not as at present, lagging far behind even in the league of Asia’s best universities.
What is most disappointing, not only to DAP but the 4.4 million voters who voted for the Barisan Nasional and 2.5 million who voted for the Opposition, is that Abdullah has failed his first big test in his pledge of a clean, incorruptible and trustworthy government and the Barisan Nasional manifesto pledge of “Cemerlang, Gemilang, Terbilang”.
The first Abdullah Cabinet is as flawed as the 2004 general election which gave the unprecedented nine-tenth parliamentary majority mandate to Abdullah.
If integrity and the perception of integrity are among the indispensable criteria for the selection of Cabinet Ministers, then the first Abdullah Cabinet has failed the acid test.
In the general election campaign, the Barisan Nasional took out full-page advertisements in all the Chinese newspapers confessing that the government
is ‘corrupt and rotten to the very core…with no aspect of life untainted by corruption” and that only Abdullah could clean up the system.
As the Barisan Nasional has belatedly confessed that its government is “corrupt and rotten to the very core…with no aspect of life untainted by corruption, he should not have re-appointed any Cabinet Minister Who had been tainted by corruption allegations or had not been able to give a satisfactory accounting of serious allegations of corruption, abuse of power, breach of trust and various malpractices, such as Rafidah Aziz, Samy Vellu, Ong Ka Ting and Nazri.
The serious and unresolved allegations involving integrity affecting Rafidah and Nazri are well-known. So too Samy Vellu, over the MAIKA Holdings Telekoms shares hijacking scandal. In fact, Samy Vellu probably holds the record as the Cabinet Minister with the most number of police and ACA reports which had been lodged against him in the nation’s history – easily past the century-mark. In the case of Ong Ka Ting, there is the grave and unresolved allegation of “black gold politics” made by none other than the MCA Youth leader and a Deputy Minister, Datuk Ong Tee Kiat last year implicating the MCA President.
A few quick comments. Abdullah retention of the Finance Ministry and the revamped Internal Security Ministry is a surprise, as his holding of two important Ministry portfolios was understandable when he first succeeded Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad but must now raise eye-brows about the lack of qualified or dependable leaders to take one such portfolio off his responsibility.
The continued allocation of the lightweight Housing and Local Government Ministry, which had always been one of the most junior of the four MCA Cabinet posts, to the MCA President, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting cannot but reflect the political marginalization of MCA in the Barisan Nasional power structure.
It is most ridiculous that the MCA Youth Leader, Ong Tee Keat should now serve as deputy minister to the UMNO Puteri leader, Azalina Othman, in the Youth and Sports Ministry – when it was already bad enough in the previous administration when he had to serve under a Minister who was the UMNO Youth leader.
It is a very sad day for MCA and MCA Youth.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman