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Friday, April 17, 2009

Poll Position, Digested Cabinet, and a cartoon surprise

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It’s been about a week since the Cabinet of TAO was unveiled. Or unleashed, as some would say. And as promised, Walski gives you his two-bits about what he thinks. Finally. After lots of consideration, digestion, and Pepto-Bismol.

Under normal circumstances, the result of whatever Walski digests is not pretty. In fact, it’s downright nasty. And so, in the interest of intellectual hygiene, Walski has had to sanitize and deodorize it some. The last thing he wants is for you lot to be puking all over this blog. Unless you’re one of those fecal-fetish types… but as Walski’s better judgment told him, let’s not go there.

Moving along…. oh yeah, TAO’s cabinet. But first, a look at what you lot thought about TAO becoming Prime Minister, via the most recent opinion poll, which closed after the cabinet announcement. Not that it made much of a dent in the results. Which, in itself, is quite telling.

At best, only a 36% approval rating!

Even if Walski were to take a broad definition of “approval rating” – taking ‘Optimistic’ and ‘Apprehensive’ both into account, the approval rating is a dismal 28%. And that’s being extremely generous. And going one step further, if Walski wanted to be extraordinarily kind – and include ‘Unsure’ – the percentage becomes a still dismal 36%.

But back to the cabinet – as Walski mentioned previously, he’s not impressed. It became quite evident really fast that it was a politically expedient cabinet. Overall, it seemed designed more to please the interests of component BN parties, rather than a cabinet to really face the challenges of the nation.

The most glaring omission? None other than Khairy Jamaluddin, of course.
(more cabinet analysis, and the cartoon debut, in the full post)

As much as KJ is despised as a politician, you have to hand it to him that the guy’s bright. But, perhaps, a tad bit too ambitious for his own good. This is the guy who, at one time, unabashedly announced that he wants to be Prime Minister before he turns 40.

Such talk, unfortunately, rings all kinds of alarm bells in the heads of more senior politicians. Plus the fact that in Malaysia, youth is not exactly something that is appreciated.

His omission, though, disappointed many, including fellow blogger Aisehman, who was rooting for the young gun. And if the snub wasn’t bad enough, KJ’s UMNO Youth deputy Razali Ibrahim was appointed Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, and defeated Youth head candidate Mukhriz Mahathir – yes, that Mukhriz – appointed as Deputy International Trade Minister. The latter’s appointment, plus the fact that KJ was left out, has raised the speculation that Dr. M had some influence in the decision.

But be that as it may, the other inhabitants of TAO’s cabinet raise some questions in Walski’s mind, too.

Deputy PM, Muhyiddin Yasin, who’s there for no other reason than him also being UMNO Deputy President, was given the Education portfolio. To Walski, Education is perhaps the most important ministry – because the policies formulated by this arm of government will have trans-generational effects. Something decided today will only have its effects seen 5, maybe 10 years down the road. Sadly, it’s also a ministry that’s seen as a stepping stone one, necessary for the path to ascend to the premiership.

Well, the first big test for Muhyiddin as Education Minister will be in tackling the non-issue-elevated-to-political-issue-of-importance – what language to teach maths & science in. Walski’s prediction is that Muhyiddin will choose to do what is most politically expedient, and not necessarily the right thing. We’ll leave it at that, for now, and come back once a decision has been made.

But not one week after holding the No. 2 position, Muhyiddin made a big faux pas in stating that the non-Malays (the Chinese, in particular) were ungrateful for not supporting BN in the recent by-election in Bukit Gantang. He’s since denied it, saying that what he said was taken out of context and manipulated by the media.

Oh, really? If that’s the case, why did NTV7 edit their news archive footage, purposely omitting the part where Muhyiddin said what he allegedly didn’t quite mean what he said? The Sensintrovert, a few days ago, posted screenshots from the Catch Up News for April 12, with the ominous footnote “Catch it here, before it's too late”. Unfortunately, by the time Walski got to it, it was too late. NTV7 didn’t remove the clip altogether, but edited out bits around the 4:20 timeline. Which is presumably where Muhyiddin allegedly said what he didn’t mean. Or is that didn’t mean to say it how it sounded?

Whatever… In any case, Walski has lots of trepidation when it comes to him helming the Education Ministry. We’ll just have to see how the guy performs with the PPSMI thing…

Of course, Walski could do a blow-by-blow dissection of each ministry and put in his two-bits about each and every one of ‘em new ministers. But he won’t. For two reasons: the first is that what Walski has to say won’t be much different from all the criticisms we’ve been hearing so far, the most damning being that made by Tunku Aziz (via The Malaysian Insider, with any emphasis by myAsylum):

If you want my honest opinion, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s People’s Cabinet is totally uninspiring and insipid to boot. And that is being charitable. What a sad commentary on the paucity of proven talent and integrity within the ranks of Barisan Nasional that all Najib has succeeded in putting on offer is a team of recycled political expendables, many with personal records of integrity that will not bear close scrutiny.

Najib has done nothing more than a bit of tinkering. Is this the clean and honest team that he has promised the nation? Instead of calling it a Cabinet, a more accurate and honest name for it is surely “baggage room” because most of those who are our new ministers, including Najib, unfortunately, are perceived to be carrying oversized baggage into office. If this had been a team chosen by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, I should not have been surprised.

(source: The Malaysian Insider)

Walski’s thoughts: it’s a slightly smaller, minorly refurbished cabinet, and not a brand-spanking new, lean and mean one. What’s more, it’s also one that’s too testosterone-laden, with a marked decrease in female representation – two ministers and eight deputies – making it 7% of the cabinet, and 20% of the deputies. And as Marina M. points out, far short of the 30% Malaysia agreed to after signing the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

More importantly is this question: is this cabinet one that can take Malaysia to greater heights and to a position of more esteem, where it rightly should be?

Which leads Walski to answering the question, by way of introducing something new to myAsylum. It’s something that’s been brewing for quite a while in his mind – a comic strip. And the answer to the question posed, is:

(click on image for a larger version)

More about the strip, it’s characters, etc. later on, but suffice it to say that Walski plans loads more of them. And maybe even a spin-off blog... who knows?

So that, in the final analysis, is Walski’s opinion – it’s an old cabinet, with new varnishing. And you can’t teach an old cabinet new tricks…