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Has Cabinet credibility,
authority and legitimacy reached its lowest depths in nation’s 48-year
I said that while Malaysians applauded the Cabinet decision to direct Jawi to disband the latest attempt at a morality police, as its “snoop squad” would be sending out the wrong message nationally and internationally of religious extremism and zealotry in the country, the Cabinet should be dealing with policy and macro issues of integrity, transparency, efficiency, excellence, justice and good governance and not micro matters which should be disposed off at the departmental stage by the respective Ministers concerned.
Today’s front-page Star headline story “Jawi defiant – FT Religious Dept wants to go ahead with its snoop squad” probably gives the answer – that the writ of many Ministers do not run very far, not even in their own Ministries, when an unanimous Cabinet decision can be openly defied with impunity by a government department through its public relations officer.
Jawi public relations officer Idris Hussein said that Jawi wants to go ahead with its snoop squad against the Cabinet decision as it was not given the opportunity to explain to the Government the purpose of the unit’s formation.
Such open defiance of the authority of the Cabinet and Prime Minister, something unheard-of and unimaginable in the past 48 years of independent nationhood, is a vindication of the warning by the New Straits Times editorial yesterday entitled “Vigil on vigilantes” on the “constant need to watch out for moral vigilantes and to stand up against the Taliban wannabes in our midst”.
The last thing Malaysians want is to see the import of religious and morality police like the mutawaeen of Saudi Arabia or basij of Iran as “The Authority for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vices”, with powers to punish offenders involving beatings and public humiliations and encouraging people to inform on others suspected of acting “unvirtuously”.
But there is another even more serious implication of such open defiance of the authority of the Prime Minister and an unanimous Cabinet decision by a government department – the low regard, esteem and respect in which Ministers are held by their own government departments and officers.
Have we plumbed to the lowest depth of Ministerial credibility, authority and legitimacy in the 48-year history of Malaysian nation-building?
This unprecedented crisis of Cabinet credibility, authority and legitimacy can only be because of two factors:
The first step to restore the credibility, authority and legitimacy of the public service is the restore the credibility, authority and legitimacy of the Cabinet which is respected not only by the Malaysian public but also by the government departments and officers themselves.
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman