Forward    Feedback    

  Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, 18th March 2008: 

Abdullah’s new Cabinet – mixed signals that PM is starting to “hear the truth from the people” after failure to honour the pledge for 42 months and cause of BN’s devastating electoral defeat as well as the return to old politics of patronage

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s new Cabinet announced today sends out mixed signals – that he is starting to “hear the truth from the people” after failure to honour his pledge for 42 months and which was the cause of the Barisan Nasional’s devastating electoral defeat in the March 8 general election as well as the return to the old politics of patronage.

The surprise appointment of Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, who was dropped as an UMNO candidate in the recent general election, as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department with the portfolio of legal affairs will be most significant if it reflects a belated commitment to institute far-reaching judicial reforms to restore confidence in the independence, integrity and quality of the judiciary to internationally-acclaimed world-class standards which it enjoyed until two decades ago when it suffered repeated assaults and rocked from one judicial scandal to another.

The appointment of UMNO Information chief Muhammad Taib as Minister for Rural and Regional Development however signifies a return to the old politics of patronage, completely at variance with Abdullah’s pledge 42 months ago to lead a clean, incorruptible and trustworthy government.

The relinquishment of one of the two key portfolios by Abdullah, who held both Internal Security and Finance under the previous administration, is a development in the right direction as it was clear that Abdullah was unable to do justice to the treble responsibilities of Prime Minister, Internal Security Minister and Finance Minister and was setting a bad example not only to other Cabinet Ministers but also to the entire government.

I hope the appointment of new Ministers in charge of key ministries, like Syed Hamid Albar as Home Affairs and Internal Security Minister, Ahmad Shabery Cheek as Information Minister, Abdul Shahrir Samad as Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister, Khaled Nordin as Higher Education Minister, Rais Yatim as Foreign Minister and Azalina Othman Said as Tourism Minister is because of an equal commitment to “hear the truth from the people” and initiate reforms in their respective jurisdictions.

Time however is not on the side of the new Cabinet. The political tsunami of March 8 does not give to the new Cabinet the luxury of the usual political honeymoon for a new Cabinet such as the conventional first hundred days for a new government or new Cabinet.

One clear message from the March 8 election results is the pent-up demand for reform after 50 years of disappointment and disillusionment at the lack of meaningful changes in the country.

All the Cabinet Ministers, whether new Ministers or old Ministers in new or previous Ministries, have less than two months to present an overall national programme of reform in conformity with the national verdict for change in the March 8 election results when Parliament reconvenes for its first meeting in May.

Will the new Abdullah Cabinet present a far-reaching national programme for reform within two months to the first meeting of Parliament which involves:

• far-reaching judicial reforms to restore a world-class judiciary;

• a first-world Parliament with wide-ranging parliamentary reforms including having an Opposition MP to head the Public Accounts Committee and a full select committee system where every Ministry is shadowed by a Select Committee;

• creation of an efficient, incorruptible, professional world-class police service with the immediate establishment of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) as recommended by the Royal Police Commission;

• restoration of the independence, professionalism and impartiality of important institutions of state whether civil service, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the Anti-Corruption Agency, etc.

• establishment of world-class education system at all levels distinguished by educational quality, excellence and meritocracy; and

• a just, efficient, progressive economic policy which closes the gap between the rich and the poor and enhances Malaysia’s international competitiveness to face the challenges of globalization.

The March 8 general election has removed the Barisan Nasional’s hitherto unbroken two-thirds parliamentary majority, creating a more balanced and healthier Parliament.

Without parliamentary secretaries, the 27 Ministers should start a new political culture of placing their parliamentary accountability as among their top responsibilities, eradicating the undesirable past practice of Ministers playing truant from Parliament – with the Prime Minister himself setting an example by instituting a weekly Prime Minister’s question time where he appears in Parliament in person to lead the government in parliamentary accountability as is the norm in first-world developed countries.

* Lim Kit Siang, MP for Ipoh Timor & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman


Your e-mail:

Your name: 

Your friend's e-mail: 

Your friend's name: