Monday, April 06, 2009

Malaysia Needs A New Breed Of Cabinet Ministers

We have a big problem in terms of governance. We DO NOT have to have all politicians taking up all the Cabinet positions. Most do not have the right qualifications. You can win the seats, that should not automatically mean that you can govern, strategise and manage well. So whats the point of winning elections then? Well, you win so that you can select capable people (what we call technocrats) to run the country. Certain cabinet positions need to be filled by the ruling coalition for sure, but not all positions.

Suffice to say, the current rules as reflected in Article 43 of the Constitution, says that
members of the Cabinet can only be selected from members of either houses of Parliament. By convention, members of the Cabinet are typically appointed from the lower house of Parliament, the Dewan Rakyat Although Deputy Ministers and/or Parliamentary Secretaries may be appointed to each portfolio, they are not included in the Cabinet. That literally means our Cabinet ministers will only be as good as the politicians we elect, and not the best brains and managers of the country necessarily. The only positions now available for non-politicians (technocrats) are those of Political Secretary, who need not be members of Parliament. Make the changes to suit the demands of the new era.

Certainly that has to be modified. Certain positions require specific expertise to push through the right kind of vision. Its not like cutting up the meat to apportion to the winners. That kind of thinking is warped and undermines our country's economic prospects. The Finance ministry for one... but we all know that is close to being untouchable .., the Telecommunications and Energy ministries would be the most in need of having the best professional managers - better known as Ministry of Energy, Water and Telecommunications. Next would be the Ministry of Agriculture, followed by the Ministry of Transport. A lot more could and should be done with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation - the big kahuna sounding name somehow lacks the punch the name would suggests. A more cohesive and management of better planning and execution is sorely needed in the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development - its not a sign this and that ministry, it is exactly our short sightedness that we fail to embrace how we can move each and every sector further up the value chain faster with a cohesive leverage on better management of our resources and strengths.

Naturally, the politicians will say "up yours" to my suggestion. A solution would be to create a powerful position called Ministerial Advisor/s for certain important ministries. These positions would see capable professionals being appointed to advise, strategise, execute, scheduling of priorities for the ministry, to name a few tasks.

I hope the powers to be will have the political will to effect the changes. In line with those changes, salaries for Ministerial positions will have to be revamped as well to attract the right people. There is more good than bad to start paying Cabinet ministers RM60,000-80,000 a month. Yes, we should be following the Singapore model of governance more. If its good, its good to follow. On that note, with higher pay, the public will also want more accountability and a lot lot lot less corruption.


Najib is expected to announce his Cabinet line-up within a week of taking office last Friday.Some analysts say that the Cabinet announcement could be as early as Wednesday or Thursday after the three by-elections in Bukit Gantang, Bukit Selambau and Batang Ai are held on Tuesday.

There are currently 32 members in the Cabinet with 27 ministries and almost two-thirds of the Cabinet are made up of appointees from Umno, the largest component in the 13-member ruling BN. The others are four from MCA and one each from MIC, Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB), Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) and UPKO.

Umno ministers are selected according to the party hierarchy. Representation from the states are also taken into consideration. At the recent Umno elections, six of the 21 Umno ministers lost in their bid to win various positions in the party.

They include Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad, Tourism Minister Datuk Azalina Othman Said, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim, Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, Higher Education Minister Datuk Khaled Nordin and Rural and Regional Development Minister Tan Sri Muhammad Muhamad Taib.

As such, the new prime minister will have a chance to undertake a reshuffle and pick a new team to reflect what he wants to do for the country, say analysts. So far only Shahrir has tendered his resignation to take effect from April 8. — Bernama

p/s photo: Han Ye Seul


ys said...

Hi, I strongly disagree that govt servants [and that includes Ministers] command a higher salary then what they are getting now. If you look into the structure of their take home pay, its MUCH MUCH more than any private sector employee. Its the allowances which they are getting that is the killer. Even a low rung primary school teacher takes home >3k and a mid-rung secondary teacher 7k! Which private sector pays these kind of money? And I won't be surprised if our ministers already take home more then their Spore counterparts, side-income excluded!

Salvatore_Dali said...


if u do not give them higher income, they will only supplement their low income from corruption.... something has to change... u increase the income , then institute tougher anti corruption measures.. of course being the cynical you, you will say that they will take the higher income n still do corruption...

if we are all cynical, we are doomed to failure... to effect changes, we must be open to take up better ideas... the move is also to attract professionals to join the government

i do agree that just higher salaries without corresponding changes in anti corruption measures and accountability will be useless as well..

hng said...

Why should pay those minister higher salary? They already earn at least 20-30k (including MP allowance). That amount of salary already more than enough to cover their living expence. Being minister does not mean have to be wealthty, they are mean to serve people and perform.

Little Bear said...

secondary school teacher really get 7k meh, no wonder my mom and friends always holidays nowadays??

shit i should get out of the tertiary education industry ;)

AnakMelaka said...

Sorry Dali,

Yes, we do need a new breed of ministers but NOT from BN!

To Ketuanan Rakyat!

see said...

The press is also an important factor. See how the Sun caused a few dents

solomon said...

If there will be surprise in the cabinet lineup, I hope that those untouchable positions could be allocated based on merits.

I just would like to see some minorities races to fill the Education and Finance minister. Need not to talk abt the DPM post like in the media, too far apart....

Once this is put in place, we could talk about the rewards. But, I guess my 1Malaysia dream will come one day, not tomorrow.....