The New Cabinet

The New Cabinet

It is to everyone’s relief that finally the new government is formally constituted. The government will probably be called the Unity Government or Kerajaan Perpaduan. Although strictly speaking it is not a unity government, rather it is a grand coalition of the willing. I think the term “perpaduan” is a value that this government aspires to, very much the same way ex-PM Ismail Sabri called his administration “Kerajaan Keluarga Malaysia”.

Clearly, the new government is conscious of the potential threats to national unity. In order to preserve national unity, the unity of the governing coalition is absolutely crucial.
The following are some of my observations:

Positive points:
1. It appeared that the ministers were selected through extensive consultation with the coalition partners. The Prime Minister seems to carefully follow the recommendation by respective parties. Thus, the composition of the cabinet roughly corresponds with the proportional strength and the hierarchy of each party in the grand coalition.

2. People can be critical of the appointments, however, there would never be a perfect choice of ministerial team. We must bear in mind that the new government consists of people who have been adversaries for as long as one can remember. They have no experience working together let alone sharing power. This is a new platform for working together.

3. The Prime Minister intends to be as inclusive as possible in accommodating the full spectrum of political representation in the formation of the cabinet. Although in my view the approach was too conservative to my liking, I understand that it was absolutely necessary given the nature of the coalition.

4. The prominent positions given to BN and GPS will help to pacify internal anti-PH sentiments and minimize squabbles. The two DPMs could motivate their affiliated parties to support the coalition government wholeheartedly. Hence it can provide the much needed stability, hopefully for a full term.

Having said this, there are some rather glaring weaknesses in the new line-up:
a. While the cabinet strengthened inter-party cooperation, its composition has erroneously neglected the equitable ratio of women’s representation. It was a pledge by all parties to achieve a minimum 30% women participation in the decision making body. Certainly this is not the responsibility of the Prime Minister alone, all parties must address this issue seriously.

b. Similarly, some ethnic minorities and territorial regions are inadequately represented in the cabinet. We recognized that certain communities or states were omitted or under-represented because the nomination process from the parties tends to be biased in favour of national leaders. This must be rectified in the future.

c. Majority of PH ministers (especially PKR) who hold key portfolios are relatively green and lack administrative records. By comparison, the cabinet members under the administrations of previous prime ministers, were in contrast much more senior and experienced. Although seniority was not a guarantee of competence, the new cabinet ministers need to quickly shorten their learning curve in order to outperform their predecessors.

Challenges ahead:
With the announcement of the new cabinet, the formation of the governing coalition is more or less settled. All parties must put aside previous prejudices and start to think and act in teamwork. If each party is only thinking about pleasing their own respective constituencies, the coalition will break down shortly. Therefore all coalition parties must focus on the common agenda rather than communal or sectarian demands.

The biggest challenges for the new government are: (1) building national unity; (2) economic development and equitable distribution.

The well-being of the citizens and the future of the nation are on the shoulders of the new government. I believe the new Prime Minister is fully aware that his administration has a pressing urgent mission to accomplish. We sincerely hope that his leadership could bring prosperity and harmony to our beloved country.

Tian Chua

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