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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Custom Cabinet Modifications

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Related post: Shopping for the right Cabinet

Well, Walski's started this post while still on the road, after work was done for the day. He's just been reading about the new cabinet line up, and here are some preliminary thoughts... more later, maybe. Or maybe not. We'll see.
(Update @ 2319 hrs: having given this some more thought, you'll definitely be hearing more about this from Walski)

There were indeed some surprises in the line up, and some expected placements and exclusions... the good, the so-so, and the butt-ugly, all rolled into one trimmed down cabinet. No surprise, however, as to Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and Najib Abdul Razak, both retaining their roles and ministries. What? Expecting otherwise? Well, Walski wasn't.

Image hosting by PhotobucketBingo, anybody?
(based on the 2006 Cabinet - pix from The Star)

The Good
The biggest nice surprise has to be the inclusion of Datuk Mohd Zaid Ibrahim (Minister in the PM's Department), whom, to Walski, is slated to become the de facto Law Minister. According to Malaysiakini, Zaid will be put in charge of legal affairs and oversee the reforms in the judiciary. Good call, Walski thinks. Definitely will do much better than Nazri "Get OUT" Aziz, who is retained as Minister in the PM's Department, but with no specific purpose announced.

Making a return to the Cabinet is Datuk Shahrir Samad, the new Minister for Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs. Datuk Shahrir is one of those politicians whom Walski does hold in some esteem, and it's good to see him back.

The bulk of the "Good" list is actually the exclusions. And there were quite a few.

Most notably: Khairy Jamaluddin - KJ - not named at all, contrary to speculations. Another good call... However, let's see what happens... particularly with regards to the 4th Floor.

A whole bunch of stalwarts did not see a return to the cabinet - Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz (former International Trade and Industry Minister - whose exclusion Walski is sure many people will be AP with), Datuk Azmi Khalid (former Natural Resources and Environment Minister), Radzi Sheik Ahmad (former Home Affairs Minister), Datuk Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis (former Science, Technology and Innovations Minister) and Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor (Tourism Minister). Walski is somehow not entirely surprised, and once again thinks the exclusions are valid (Pak Lah wisely chose not to discuss the why's during the announcement).

Perplexing, some of them, though... since they won their respective constituencies. Maybe it's because they've been around for too long. Like Uncle Samy. Okay, no one on here has been minister for that long... but you catch Walski's drift.

A good start? Maybe. We'll see... we'll see...
(the so-so and the ugly, in the full post)

The So-So
For those who were retained from the previous cabinet, not all were returned to their old roles. Syed Hamid Albar, formerly the Foreign Minister (replaced by Datuk Seri Dr. Rais Yatim), now helms the combined Home Affairs and Internal Security Ministry. Commenting on his appointment, via The Star (emphasis by myAsylum):

"I am still surprised with the post although I was sure I would be moved from the Foreign Ministry," Syed Hamid said.

"I have to learn fast to regain public confidence in security related matters. Judging from the election results, Malaysians expect some things to be done," he said.

(source: The Star)

Gee.. you think? For one thing, Walski's hope is that your ministry stops being so trigger-happy when it comes to book banning. We are not exactly the "mindless sheep" that your predecessor treated us as.

Another important portfolio change is the one for the Ministry of Higher Education, now helmed by Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin (formerly Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Minister) - let's hope our public institutions of higher learning regain the stature that had been lost during the previous administration. His predecessor, Datuk Mustapa Mohamed, now heads the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry. Unless the livestock start revolting, this is probably a good move.

"I know the challenges in this ministry are very big and the expectations of the rakyat are very high, particularly in trying to make Malaysia the centre of excellence for higher education.

"What I know is that the work is going to be very different from the ministry I was heading before, but I will reserve my plans for the ministry until I have been briefed by the ministry staff," said the Pasir Gudang MP.
(source: The Star)

For one thing, the public institutions need to have less stiffling environments, both for the faculty and the students, and need to be more research orientated - oh, and more emphasis put on qualifications (of its faculties) and less on racial quotas. Let's see exactly what changes...

There are a few others that Walski can comment on, but he'll save that for later...

The Butt-Ugly
One person that Walski really has to ask "WHY?" is Muhammad Muhd Taib... yes, the man with 2 Muhammads in his name... who is now Minister for Rural and Regional Development. Okay, so it's a not-so high profile ministry (which is a consolation)... Ministry of the Boondocks... but really... Why? Why?

And why on Earth has Kerishamuddin been retained? In the same all-too-important portfolio of Education, no less? Unless his performance assessment has been solely been based on the ever increasing A's achievement in the public exams. Which is a dumb KPI to use, in the first place.

Again, Walski cannot help but ask why? Why? WHY?

~ ~ ~ o O o ~ ~ ~

In any case, the full listing for Pak Lah's new Cabinet can be viewed at Politickler, and commentaries (loads of 'em) from other blogs can be read via Google Blog Search.

It's early days yet, for this Cabinet, all things considered... and Walski will give it the benefit of the doubt. The next step for Walski's evaluation? How they perform in Parliament, and what they have to say in the press.

One thing is for sure, though - this new Cabinet's performance will be scrutinized very, very closely by all Malaysians. And of course, by us bloggers...