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Tuesday March 25, 2008
COMMENTBy SIMON KHOO
AS anticipated, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi duly rewarded Pahang for the good show at the general election.
Four elected representatives were made ministers.
Of the 42 state seats, Pahang Barisan Nasional won 37. Of the 14 parliamentary seats, the Barisan won 12.
Barisan will have another state seat when the MCA central committee approves the application of Tanah Rata independent candidate Ho Yip Kap who applied to join MCA after his win.
In the previous Cabinet, Pahang had only two ministers – Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (Defence) and Datuk Seri Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis (Science, Technology and Innovation).
The four deputy ministers were Datuk Seri Tengku Azlan Sultan Abu Bakar (Transport); Datuk Fu Ah Kiow (Internal Security), Datuk Liow Tiong Lai (Youth and Sports) and Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen (Finance).
Abdullah recently announced the new Cabinet line-up comprising 50% new faces. Pahang has four ministers in this round.
Najib retained his Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister positions while three other MPs, including a new face, were given ministerial portfolios.
Deputy Ministers Liow and Dr Ng were promoted to minister. Liow heads the Health Ministry while Dr Ng is the Women, Family and Community Development Minister.
New face Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob is Youth and Sports Minister. Ismail's appointment came as a surprise, although he was speculated to take over from Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob if Adnan moved to a parliamentary seat.
In addition, three MPs from Pahang were named deputy ministers – Tengku Azlan (Foreign), Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development) and S.K. Devamany (PM’s Department).
However, Tengku Azlan declined the offer, citing that “he had not moved up the ladder”.
It is left to be seen if the vacancy will be filled by an MP from Pahang, as appointments are at the discretion of Abdullah.
Dr Jamaluddin's exclusion was a major shock for his supporters and the state Barisan because he was seen as a rising star and his victory margin was a strong 10,000 votes.
With a strong ministerial force from Pahang in the federal administration, folks in Pahang anticipate more projects and development coming their way, particularly in Raub (Dr Ng), Bentong (Liow) and Bera (Ismail Sabri).
They use Pekan as a benchmark. The royal town has seen development since Najib became the parliamentary representative in 1976, but the changes accelerated when he became Deputy Prime Minister in 2004.
For instance, it took half a day to travel from Kuala Lumpur to Pekan. Now it takes only two hours after the east coast highway was constructed.
Pekan has been earmarked to be turned into a regional automotive hub. Universiti Malaysia Pahang has decided to build its main campus in Pekan.
Single-mother and community-oriented programmes in the state are expected to be increased with Dr Ng at the helm.
Dr Ng is known as a proactive leader and she will certainly want to build on her reputation as the first woman minister for Wanita MCA.
At the local front, Adnan seems keen to use new talents. He said he would drop four executive councillors from his previous line-up. He has already named two.
The two who gained Adnan's trust were Tanjung Lumpur assemblyman Datuk Wan Adnan Wan Mamat and Jelai assemblyman Datuk Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail.
The “promoting new blood” concept seems be a post-election afterthought. He did not see the need to apply the concept when naming the Barisan Nasional candidates for the general election as he had chosen to retain most of the incumbents.
There were only 15 new faces fielded for the 42 state seats and two new names for the14 parliamentary seats.
Perhaps Adnan felt the strong wind of change in this general election was a clear message from voters that they want rejuvenation in the federal and state leadership.
People are tired of seeing the old guards year in and year out making promises and playing up rhetoric but not getting things done.
This may explain why Barisan strongholds such as the Kuantan and Indera Mahkota parliamentary seats fell to Opposition candidates relatively unknown in the political scene.
For instance, it was a shock for Barisan's Kuantan candidate Datuk Fu Ah Kiow to lose to Wanita PKR Kuantan chief Fuziah Salleh by 1,826 votes.
With fresh faces come new ideas and ways of doing things. The voters are watching them closely. Hopefully, in their quests to prove themselves and get re-elected, the public will gain.
Kuantan folk can only hope that projects under the East Coast Economic Region blueprint such as the upgrading of Kuantan Port, airport, railways and Gambang halal hub take off soon.
No doubt, the people voted in the Opposition in Kuantan, the most developed area in the state – a clear sign of wanting the state administration to buck up – but there is no reason why they should be penalised.
In fact, the state should do its best to implement all the listed projects and bring in more development and investments to win back the people's hearts.
Both sides should bear in mind that voters are watching how they perform to decide who comes to power after the next general election in five years.
Bear in mind – while bread and butter issues continue to be priority for voters - transparency, clean leadership and humility are important concerns for voters.
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