The question on everyone’s mind right now is, when will the much-anticipated Cabinet reshuffle take place?
IT has been a long wait for the MCA and Gerakan presidents to join the Cabinet.
Numerous reports have been written on an impending Cabinet reshuffle and but none have been able to second guess the Prime Minister.
Sounds familiar, right? The media predicted the Parliament would be dissolved as early as two years before Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak eventually did call for the general election.
Up to last week, Najib was still playing coy on a Cabinet reshuffle. His own Cabinet members and staff of the Prime Minister’s Office will say it is difficult to read the man.
An officer’s standard reply would be “tunggu” while another said being hard to predict could be an advantage.
The element of surprise is always important in politics and this also shows that he keeps his own counsel.
Just recently, the Prime Minister was given a briefing on the ground sentiment on his Cabinet.
He was told that people want the reshuffle to take place now.
The Prime Minister was also informed that two of his Cabinet ministers did “pretty well”.
The two first-time ministers did well in terms of having fewer disparaging comments against them.
In other words, the people accept the level of competency of these two ministers. Whether they performed or not is for the Prime Minister to judge.
The perception about Najib’s Cabinet is that not everybody is rising to their role of fulfilling the portfolios expected of them.
When he introduced his fiscal consolidation programme in tandem with the economic transformation, the laymen were asking: What is this? How will it affect our life?
Even Najib admitted in an interview last month that many people do not know about fiscal consolidation; they do not want to know about the national deficit.
What people know is that they have to fork out more money whenever they go to the hypermarkets.
Amid all this fear of rising inflation, it doesn’t help that the goods and services tax, to be implemented next April, is not explained well to the ground.
Another example where the anxiety level was raised was the controversial announcement on an increase in assessment values by more than 100% in the Federal Territory.
That caused outrage among city dwellers and it did not help that the timing of the announcement was made when the rakyat were increasingly worried about their livelihood.
Although it was later explained that there would be a reduction in rates, the damage was already done.
“The timing was just wrong. People thought that it was part of the national fiscal consolidation.
“It was a blunder. That mistake had nothing to with the Prime Minister but the damage is done.
“The political thinking was that the Chinese were being punished but you forget that Datuk Keramat, a Malay majority area, is also in the Federal Territory,” said a politician.
A senior minister, when asked whether the Cabinet should be reshuffled, has this to say: “Renewal or rejuvenation should be a continuous process. Of course, there are some constraints when we deal with 13 component parties.
“But within these practical restraints, we need to get the best minds. It is an opportunity to bring in fresh ideas. The world is becoming more complicated.”
On what he thinks of the present Cabinet, the minister gave a restrained reply: “The present Cabinet has delivered but there is always room for improvement.”
Surely Najib is doing something right. If not for his leadership, Malaysia would not have recorded two of the highest rankings the country has ever achieved – 12th place in the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2014 Global Competitiveness Ranking and sixth place in Doing Business 2014 by World Bank.
The question on everybody’s mind is why the Prime Minister is taking his time about reshuffling his Cabinet.
The danger is people out there think that he can’t make up his mind and that they feel that he should just get it over with.
When he eventually does, he needs to have a better performing Cabinet.
But let’s just hope that he doesn’t wait for too long about deciding on the reshuffle or just filling in the posts. There is just too much wild speculation out there.
> The views expressed are entirely the writer's own.