Barely 24 hours after Najib Abdul Razak’s new cabinet line-up was announced, the new prime minister has already received brickbats from the DAP.
MCPXLeading the dissatisfied pack was DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang who said the line-up created history as “the first Malaysian Cabinet with the most number of political rejects”.
Najib had appointed ministers who had been defeated in the general election last year but brought back to Parliament through the “back door” of the Senate, Lim said in a statement today.
(They are) namely (Gerakan president) Koh Tsu Koon, (Umno Wanita chief) Shahrizat Abdul Jalil), (MCA Wanita chief) Chew Mei Fun and (Umno supreme council member) Awang Adek Hussin.
“This does not speak well for the government’s commitment to accountability and democracy,” the DAP leader asserted.
29 ministers, not 28
Lim also lambasted Najib for making “such a small yet colossal mistake” where there are actually 29 ministers instead of 28.
“Most of the media headlines screamed ‘28 ministers, 40 deputy ministers’ when actually it should be ‘29 ministers, 40 deputy ministers’,” he said.
With this figure, Lim said Najib has only two less than the 31 ministers of his predecessor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and two more than the last cabinet by the fourth prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad after the 1999 general election.
“If Najib is serious about a lean and smart cabinet, he should have trimmed the cabinet by one third to have not more than 20 ministers when in contrast, the United Kingdom has a cabinet of 23 full-rank ministers, Australia with 20 ministers and France with 17 ministers,” he added.
Najib announced his much-awaited cabinet yesterday which saw many old faces retained and the cabinet has been slashed from 32 ministers to 28 but the number of deputy ministers increased from 38 to 40.
At the same time, the number of ministries have been reduced from 28 to 25, with the merger of a few portfolios.
There are only six new faces named as full ministers and even then, two were promotions from their deputy minister’s posts. They represented only about 20 percent of the new cabinet.
Not answerable to the public
Echoing Lim’s sentiments, DAP member of Parliament for Klang Charles Santiago said the ministers chosen by Najib are “not answerable to the public” as they were not chosen by the people during the last general election.
“Neither would they have to face their constituents. In short, they are simply not accountable to anyone, except Najib,” said Santiago in a statement.
He further accused Najib of retaining “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 weeding out graft or initiating changes to the administration of the country under ruling Umno and its component parties,” he said.
Santiago also remarked that dropping newly-elected Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin from the cabinet line-up and including his defeated rival and Mahathir’s son Mukhriz Mahathir only “goes to show that Najib is pals with the former premier”.
“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,” he said, adding that
“deliberately sidelining Khairy will only cause an internal strife within Umno”.
“(And this) may lead to further instability and infighting within the party,” said Santiago