IT was a report quoting Entrepreneur Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Yusof on possibly expanding the scope of his ministry to include trade and investment.
He was quoted by the national news agency on Monday as saying: “To me personally, entrepreneur development is incomplete without investment and trade.”
And as if to back up his argument Mohd Redzuan was reported as saying Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has responded positively to his proposal.
The very next day the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) issued a two-page statement detailing the ministry’s scope of responsibilities in planning, legislating and implementing international trade, industrial and investment policies.
The statement quoted minister Darell Leiking as saying that Miti will focus on working with all ministries to bring in domestic and international investors into our ecosystem.
“Each and every ministry has their own role to play in achieving Malaysia’s economic agenda,” Leiking said.
It is no-brainer really that Miti’s statement is in reaction to Mohd Redzuan’s remarks made at an oil and gas event.
Leiking must have been freaked out by the fact that a Cabinet colleague dared to talk about expanding his scope of work and seemed to encroach into Miti’s role.
He must have heard talk that Mohd Redzuan had proposed to Dr Mahathir last year that the Entrepreneur Development Ministry (MED) be changed to Entrepreneur Development and International Trade Ministry (Medit).
The simple argument to the Prime Minister is that entrepreneur development is incomplete without trade.
What prompted Mohd Redzuan to say these things before his audience who are players in the local oil and gas industry is anyone’s guess.
But in the past few months Mohd Redzuan has often talked about the third national car, including a RM20mil fund to develop the third national car prototype. He has also said the car will roll out in 2020.
While Mohd Redzuan is seen as being more definite on his statements on the project, Miti from time to time touched on the project, limiting itself to talk on shortlisting the companies to pursue the car project.
This “competition” finally came out in the open this week, unwittingly.
There have been whispers on the ground on MED trying to encroach into Miti’s role while the latter is seen as slow to react to the agenda set by the Prime Minister in driving the economy.
The statements made by MED and Miti ministers are sending conflicting signals to the public, business community and more importantly to the civil servants.
What they see is two politicians, both first-time ministers, bickering. It is ugly and unhealthy.
At a press conference on Monday, Mohd Redzuan when asked to clarify on his statement on expanding the scope of MED, replied it is his personal opinion that to complete the role of MED, it must be coupled with investment and trade.
“Perhaps there is a need to restructure to ensure better results, that is for discussion with related parties.
“We will not deny the functions of other ministries but that means there must be a redefinition of functions,” he told the press.
It’s either Mohd Redzuan thinks other ministries work in silos and it is slowing down his progress at MED or he is setting his sights on heading Miti should there be a Cabinet reshuffle.
There is already talk that Dr Mahathir may reshuffle his Cabinet in May, the first anniversary of the Pakatan Harapan government.
MED has been revived under Dr Mahathir’s leadership. Mohd Redzuan as the minister given the task to lead MED must mould his own people and work culture.
As for Leiking and Miti’s statement, some parties are already saying it was not clever to issue the statement.
For a start, former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had already poked fun at the statement on Miti’s strategies in attracting investments had been fruitful where for the past 10 years, a staggering amount of RM1.9 trillion of private investments had been approved.
“Pelik bin Ajaib (strange and miraculous). Didn’t PH say Malaysia is on the brink of disaster and bankrupt under BN during my time?” Najib said in his Facebook posting.
Building Malaysia and the economy is a job of all ministries and surely there will be overlaps. The Cabinet should be working as a team and not working in silos.
Ministers are given specific tasks to deliver, they are expected to learn fast and not end up finding themselves irrelevant in the end.