A Reform Centered Cabinet?

Press Statement by MP Klang Charles Santiago

First, we were all given the impression that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's new cabinet will be leaner. Slashing two people hardly amounts to slimming down the cabinet representation.

But what is more pertinent is Najib's choice of candidates whom he would rely on to implement his government and social reforms in the next coming months. In contradiction to infusing new blood, he has retained most of the ministers from former premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's cabinet.

Maybe Najib forgot that these ministers were an integral part of the previous government that failed to deliver on its reform promises, including the weeding out of graft. Or for that matter initiate changes to the administration of the country under ruling UMNO and its component parties.

What is even more glaring is Najib's back-door means of appointing candidates who lost at the last general election. These ministers and deputy ministers are not answerable to the public because they were not chosen by them. Neither would they have to face their constituents. In short they are simply not accountable to anyone, except Najib.

Dropping Khairy Jamaluddin from the cabinet line-up only goes to show that Najib is pals with former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The other theory is that Najib wants to make sure that the old man does not pass stinging remarks about his leadership from both within and outside the country.

Najib has already incurred the wrath of Abdullah's boys for purging them out of UMNO before party elections were held. Deliberately side-lining Khairy will cause an internal strife within UMNO, which may lead to further instability and infighting within the party.

Najib does not need more problems for himself. He has been facing serious allegations linking him to the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu, the Mongolian model.

The court verdict, sentencing the two policemen implicated in the murder to death, has only angered the rakyat more. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the former Special Task Force officers are scapegoats with absolutely no motives for blowing up Shariibuu, using powerful explosives.

Although speculations about Najib's role in the lurid murder might linger, he could have at the very least put together a more credible team to show he is serious about reforms.

His inability to do so candidly shows that there is nothing within UMNO to help them change.


Charles Santiago
Member of Parliament, Klang.
Vice-Chairman of Selangor DAP
016-626 7797