PETALING JAYA: Chinese representation in the Cabinet, which is set to be unveiled tomorrow, remains a priority for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in drawing up his administrative team.
It is understood that Najib has had several meetings with Barisan Nasional component leaders – including his own senior Umno officials – over this dilemma since MCA had declined to accept any government position after its dismal showing at the GE13.
MCA won seven of the 37 parliament seats it contested and the party EGM last year had resolved that if they did not do as well as the 2008 general election they would not accept any government position.
However, it is understood that Najib wants to maintain Barisan’s multi-racial concept which requires the Chinese representation in the Cabinet, which is expected to be sworn in before the Yang di-Pertuan Agong at Istana Negara on Thursday.
Gerakan, a multi-racial but predominantly Chinese component party, is now down to only one representative in the Dewan Rakyat for the Simpang Renggam parliamentary seat in Johor.
There had been speculation that one option for Najib was for him to hold back a couple of Cabinet posts for MCA to fill up when the party is ready to take up those positions.
Najib could, meanwhile, act as a “caretaker” minister for these two ministries.
Another option is for Najib to appoint prominent Chinese academics or business figures as ministers.
Apart from Najib and his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Umno’s representation in the Cabinet would likely include its three vice-presidents – Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal and Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.
There is talk that MIC president Datuk Seri G.Palanivel and his deputy Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam would likely be re-appointed to the Cabinet as they won the Cameron Highlands and Segamat parliamentary seats, respectively.
Najib also has the option to re-appoint former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala because his term as senator expires only in 2015.
Prior to the elections, there were 10 senators who held ministerial and deputy ministerial portfolios.
Finding women candidates for the Cabinet would not be an issue.
Among the forerunners to be appointed as ministers are former Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Noriah Kasnon, Datuk Halimah Mohd Sadique who won the Tenggara parliamentary seat and former Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Rashid Shirlin.
Najib is also likely to consider new faces for his Cabinet which could include heads of government-linked firms and top corporate figures who can help improve the country’s economic management.
Among the names that have been mentioned as possible candidates is Khazanah Nasional managing director Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar
To represent younger Malaysians in the Cabinet, the Prime Minister can draw from a pool including Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin and Kota Belud MP Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan.
National Council of Professors deputy chairman Prof Datuk Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin said Khairy and Rahman are suitable candidates who can help woo younger voters.
“To get the support of the youth, we need vocal ministers who are not afraid to call a spade, a spade but I think there are not enough who are like them in the current line-up of MPs. This could be a problem,” he said.
Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS) chairman Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam said many are hoping that the Cabinet will be made up of bright, able, youthful and honest leaders who think and act as Malaysians first and foremost.
Did you find this article insightful?