Cabinet overshadowed by Altantuya, unable to recruit talent

(Suara Keadilan) – Below is a compilation of reactions from politicians, civil society leaders, political and economic analysts to the newly-announced cabinet by Prime Minister Najib Razak. Undeniably, his line-up has drawn more brickbats than kudos for containing mostly old faces, many of whom were ‘voter rejects’.

Of particular worry, was his inability to attract the best minds to join his team and help to get Malaysia going again.

Lim Kit Siang, DAP adviser
The majority of those who watched  Prime Minister Najib Razak’s live-telecast announcement of his cabinet were not interested in his 15-minute statement on KPI (key performance index) for his ministers, but with the Altantuya murder case uppermost in their minds.

It was completely overshadowed by the ghost of murdered Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu after the morning’s High Court conviction and death sentence for policemen Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar for her C4 murder.

All they wanted to know with growing impatience was his new list of ministers. Although Najib does not want to have ministers with political baggages, there is not only the question as to which member of his cabinet can claim to be free from baggage, there is the even bigger question as to which cabinet minister has more baggage than Najib himself!

Unlike his predecessor, Abdullah Badawi, Najib failed in his highly-publicised attempt to recruit any prestigious member from the corporate sector to join his cabinet.

Najib’s cabinet also failed to live up to the hype of “lean” though it may be “mean”, setting a dubious cabinet record of using the “back door of Parliament” to bring into the government the biggest crop of defeated candidates in the previous general election – namely Koh Tsu Koon, Shahrizat, Chew Mei Fun and Awang Adek Hussin.

This  does not speak well for the government’s commitment to accountability and democracy! If Najib wanted the cabinet to be really “lean”, he should have slashed the 32-strong Abdullah team by at least one-third!

Tian Chua, Keadilan information chief

This is a team of all the president’s men. Najib has practically chopped off all traces of Abdullah’s influence. There is bound to be undercurrents arising from this non-inclusive attitude.

Tony Pua, PJ Utara MP
It is still the same old horses and same ministries. If you want to bring in political rejects, it makes the cabinet a bit of an artefact. After all the hype, it is a little disappointing.

Ramon Navaratnam, chairman of Asian Strategic and Leadership Institute
It appears difficult to get good people into cabinet and from outside. This is a serious warning to Najib and the ruling coalition because what it means is that the current leadership is facing a crisis of confidence with few people of talent interested to serve in their parties and most not even keen on joining the political arena.

It must be taken seriously because it has very serious repercussion on the future leadership of the country. There is growing cynicism on the integrity of the political system and leadership. The policial arena is regarded as ‘dirty’, backstabbing and corrupt. Many, many of the best minds in the country don’t come in for that reason, they don’t want to spoil their own image.

Young people, corporate people, talented people should be groomed and and the red carpet rolled out to get them – not just to join the political parties – but to participate and contribute to the governance of the nation.

Gavin Khoo, political analyst

It clearly shows that Najib is not willing to go to the full length to reform. He has to do deeper restructuring than that.

Agus Yusoff, a professor of political science at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

It is not to my expectations. Those who lost elections were given positions or retained while those who won were not.

Azrul Azwa, economist at Bank Islam
It remains to be seen if they can deliver but too often than not, we have seen under-performance. Overall, this is a disappointment because what investors and the markets want most from Malaysia now are concrete and real reforms.

We had expected him to bring in someone from industry, well-recognised nationally and internationally, because like it or not, the country is facing a crisis of confidence. Too much has happened, a lot of it is bad publicity that has made investors wary.

P Ramakrishnan, president of pressure and social reform group Aliran
It is smaller in the sense there are 28 ministers now as compared to the previous 32. But it is bigger in another sense. There is an increase in the deputy ministers in that there are now 40 as compared to 38 in the previous administration.