Was Zahid’s infamous letter to FBI discussed at Cabinet yesterday – more likely not, as all Ministers who stay in glass houses have learnt not to throw stones

Was the Home Minister’s infamous letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), vouching for the integrity of an alleged Malaysian gambling kingpin Paul Phua standing trial in Las Vegas, Nevada in direct contradiction to the police’s earlier communication with FBI, discussed at the Cabinet meeting yesterday?

It should be if the Ministers care for the interests and international reputation of the country and if the Malaysian system of governance had undergone a national transformation, upholding the principles of accountability and good governance.

After all, Ministers like ordinary Malaysians must be piqued to know why Zahid’s letter was withdrawn in the Nevada District Court in Las Vegas after Putrajaya objected to it being used in Paul Puah’s defence.

Zahid’s letter was clearly in defence of Phua. Who objected to it being used in open court proceedings? Zahid, the Attorney-General, the Police or the Prime Minister himself?

Could it be that Malaysian Ministers are a special batch of politicians who, like the traditional three monkeys, have eyes that see not, ears that hear not, and mouth that speaks not – who are completely uninterested as to what other Ministers are doing or saying, though they are bound by the principle of collective Ministerial responsibility?

I doubt that Zahid’s infamous letter to the FBI ever made it to the Cabinet yesterday, or the Malaysian public would have been told of the Cabinet decision on the issue.

Our Ministers are really a special breed of people, all of whom stay in glass houses and have learnt not to throw stones!

No Minister would want to know or ask in Cabinet why the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak went off on vacation in Hawaii when those in the East Coast were warned to expect the worst floods in decades, or where the government VIP jet went to when Najib cut short his Hawaii vacation and rushed home in a commercial jet to personally take the lead in the floods mitigation and relief operations, although media reported that the aircraft took off from Honolulu to Los Angeles then Indianapolis, where it remained for six days until Dec 31, 2014, when it took off for Los Angeles, followed by New York, London, Dubai, Bangkok and finally arriving in Kuala Lumpur International Airport on January 4.

No Minister wanted to know about the atrocious Floods Disaster Management Preparations resulting in 23 dead, evacuation of a quarter of a million flood victims with over a million people affected by the foods, the death of 23 people and losses to the tune of billions of ringgit or why the Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin only chaired one meeting of the National Security Council in 2014, and that was some 12 months ago on Januarry 3, 2014 although the Floods Catastrophe 2014-2015 is Malaysia’s worst floods in living memory?

At the Cabinet yesterday, which had not met for three weeks throughout the worst floods catastrophe in living memory, the Chief Secretary Tan Sri Ali Hamsa was directed to determine the roles and responsibilities of ministries and agencies in the aftermath of the massive floods that hit the several states.

This meant that the directive issued by the Prime Minister on Dec. 28 to Cabinet Ministers who were on vacation overseas ordering them to return home immediately to assist in the flood rescue and relief operations was a dead letter, and the Prime Minister had to wait until yesterday to direct the Chief Secretary to “determine the roles and responsibilities” of the Ministers in the aftermath of the floods catastrophe.

Why issue a directive if the Prime Minister could not enforce it, and had to wait until the scheduled Cabinet meeting 10 days later on January 7 for the Chief Secretary to determine the allocation of the post-flood responsibilities of the Ministers?

How many Ministers complied with Najib’s directive and cut short their vacation overseas to return to their duties earlier than scheduled? How many Ministers simpli defied or ignored Najib’s directive, completed their vacation overseas and took their leisure time to return to their Ministerial duties?

Of course, all these information are top state secrets under the Official Secrets Act and extra reasons why Ministers mind their own business, oblivious of the principle of the collective responsibility of Ministers to avoid raising “embarrassing” issues affecting other Ministers in the Cabinet.

The proverb “Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones” would be the guiding principle of all Ministers in the Malaysian Cabinet.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah