Lean and effective Cabinet needed

PETALING JAYA: The spotlight is now on the composition of the Cabinet under the new Prime Minister, with political pundits saying there should be a “crisis-management” Cabinet.

They said the new Cabinet must not be a bloated one but instead comprise members who will be effective in managing the Covid-19 pandemic.

There must be a small and functioning Cabinet, represented by those who have a sense of leadership and would be able to manage a crisis, said Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian from the School of Social Sciences at Universiti Sains Malaysia.

“We cannot have a huge Cabinet, as it is irrelevant,” he said.

Up close: Nik Shafiqa Madhiah and her father Nik Kamal Nik Soh watching the televised swearing-in ceremony of the ninth Prime Minister at their home in Kuala Lumpur. — Bernama

As for the Deputy Prime Minister’s post, he opined it should be given to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.

“Bersatu or Perikatan Nasional has 50 parliamentary seats,” said Prof Sivamurugan.

Perikatan comprises Bersatu (31), PAS (18) and Sabah STAR (one).

“It may either be Bersatu secretary-general Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin or Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, although if you are looking at party hierarchy, it has to be Bersatu deputy president Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu,” he said yesterday.

Perikatan earlier declared that its support for Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob as Prime Minister was conditional upon him appointing Cabinet members who are not facing criminal charges in court.

Prior to Ismail Sabri’s appointment as deputy prime minister about a month before Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin stepped down, there was no one occupying the post.Instead, there were senior ministers such as Ismail Sabri, Azmin, Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, Datuk Radzi Jidin and Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

As for now, Prof Sivamurugan said the newly appointed Prime Minister with the backing of 114 MPs, must strengthen Barisan Nasional, have a cordial relationship with Perikatan, and collaborate with the Opposition as well.

He said the new Prime Minister could consider forming a more solid National Recovery Council with members from all political parties from both blocs.

Previously, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) proposed that the new Federal Government should create two deputy prime minister posts – one to be filled by a GPS parliamentarian.

Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president and Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Amar Dr James Jemut Masing said the other deputy prime minister’s post can be occupied by someone from one of the parties from Peninsular Malaysia.

International Islamic University Malaysia legal adviser Prof Dr Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmood believes that it would take some time before a deputy prime minister can be appointed as negotiations are still ongoing.

“At this point, Bersatu is the top contender to fill the post as it is a key ally of the Prime Minister,” he said.However, he also expects that PAS and GPS would be given a more prominent role in the Cabinet.

“The Prime Minister also cannot allow PAS to play second fiddle as the party will play a vital role in the 15th General Election,” he added.

Prof Nik Ahmad Kamal said that Umno leaders who are aligned to party president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi might also be appointed to the Cabinet to avoid any internal problem within Umno.

“This is because Ahmad Zahid and those who are aligned to him had withdrawn their support before, so the Prime Minister may want to avoid any form of instability within his own party,” he said, but stressed that they must be free of any criminal court cases.

National Professors Council senior fellow Dr Jeniri Amir pointed out that the newly formed Cabinet should reflect a new form of politics and perhaps even those from the Opposition could be appointed.

“This is the way forward and can end our political crisis. You need real reforms, and the people will be watching how the Prime Minister handles the Opposition,” he said.

He said the Cabinet must comprise those with the right qualifications, are dynamic and are people of integrity.

“The image of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet can be restored if he makes the right decisions, and improves local and international perception of our country,” added Jeniri.


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