Get the right people for the job

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  • Saturday, 30 Jun 2018

THERE has been much ado over a purported leaked list of the full Cabinet line-up which made the rounds on social media early this week.

The delay in announcing the rest of the Cabinet since the swearing-in of 13 ministers last month gave rise to mounting speculation over who would make the cut, with various names being mentioned and doubtless, much lobbying and negotiations behind the scenes.

And so the ‘leaked’ list created a buzz as people pored over it to see whose names were on it and which portfolios they were assigned to.

In Sarawak, the tongue-wagging quickly turned into consternation in some quarters upon the realisation that the state would have only one minister and one deputy minister.

According to the list, state PKR chairman Baru Bian is named Works Minister while state DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen, who is also state Pakatan Harapan chief here, gets a deputy minister’s post for domestic trade and consumer affairs.

Unfortunately, some people took this to be an insult to Sarawak and called for more ministers in view of the state Pakatan’s 12 parliamentary seats.

Serian DAP, for instance, said Sarawakians would be “unhappy” and “dismayed” to get only one minister and one deputy minister.

It added that this was “just mocking Sarawak” and that the swing of support towards Pakatan in the state should be recognised and rewarded with two ministers and three deputy ministers.

Other local Pakatan leaders also said they were disappointed with the ‘leaked’ list as the allocation was too little compared to the state Pakatan’s performance in GE14.

But these complaints sound out of tune with the spirit of the new Malaysia and its focus on reforming and cleaning up past bad practices, one of which was dishing out Cabinet appointments as a reward for performance or loyalty.

Cabinet posts shouldn’t be offered as a reward for how well a party or state has done, nor should they be a means of keeping the peace or placating disgruntled parties.

This is how you end up with a culture of patronage and seeking favours rather than efficient and effective service.

Yes, to a certain extent the Prime Minister has to balance the demands of the component parties but ultimately it is his prerogative to pick the Cabinet.

Surely the focus should be on selecting the best candidates for each post.

Since these are the highest-ranking people running the country, it seems reasonable that they should be picked based on their ability, capability and suitability for the job.

Furthermore the Prime Minister has said that he wants a leaner Cabinet, which of course means that there will be fewer posts to go round.

Indeed, one common grouse about the previous Cabinet was its bloated size with 35 ministers and 33 deputy ministers, so a trimmed down Cabinet is something to be welcomed.

In any case, fighting over Cabinet appointments never looks good, as though you care too much about power and position.

Better to focus on how you can serve the people and contribute to good governance, whether or not you are in the Cabinet.

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Metro , East Malaysia , Sarawak , ETC , Sharon Ling , Column


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