The New Cabinet UPDATED (in italics)


Written on 3/18/2008 03:27:00 pm by sikapitan

Pak Lah just announced his new Cabinet, and I’m not referring to IKEA. It’s a lean mean cabinet, but there are still 27 ministries, down from the previous 32 but not 24 like some predicted. UPDATED!

Rafidah and Pak Lah

Surprisingly, Rafidah Aziz, one of the longest serving ministers, was dropped from the MITI portfolio which she held since 1987. With both her and Samy Vellu out from the Cabinet, the remnants of Tun M era are fading into the sunset. Much has been said about Rafidah’s political prowess, but the contradiction between her legendary work ethics and alleged corrupt practices means that she has to be sacrificed.

What this will do to Pak Lah’s political future is unknown. Rafidah has strong support from Wanita UMNO, the wing that has now seen its influence slowly dwindling with both Rafidah and Shahrizat out of the Cabinet. This will lead to further discontent amongst the rank-and-file. But it could also signal the beginning of a power struggle within Wanita UMNO, what with Azalina Othman remaining a favorite of Pak Lah and having the backing of her Puteri UMNO cohorts.

Malaysiakini just reported that Rafidah has called on a surprise press conference at her former Ministry. It was reported that she may resign from her position as Wanita Chief, paving the way for a battle between Shahrizat, who was made special adviser with the ranking of minister, and Azalina, who is now the designated Tourism minister for the post of Wanita Chief. (Read the above...just as predicted)

Pak Lah has also killed two birds with one stone. By removing Rafidah, he has sent a strong message to the public that he is ready to change. But more importantly, and I think (although bless Pak Lah if he really wanted to change the Government) the main consideration in removing Rafidah, is the fact that Rafidah could be one of the strongest voice if the call for Pak Lah to resign continues within UMNO’s rank and file.

Pak Lah and Rafidah have never been friends, and Rafidah’s almost daughter-like relationship with Tun M is certain to cause anxiety amongst Pak Lah and his supporters. With Rafidah and Shahrizat both allegedly unhappy with Pak Lah’s handling of GE 12, it takes a brave man to continue giving power to the leader of a wing that has done so much as part of UMNO’s campaign machinery.

It remains to be seen what happens next, but it’s harder for UMNO to call on Pak Lah to resign now that he suddenly becomes the darling of the Opposition supporters and general public. It’s almost a brilliant move by Pak Lah, but how much of it was due to serving the public instead of personal political interest?

Other Casualties

Tengku Adnan Mansor, the infamous minister embroiled in the VK Lingam saga, was also dropped from the Tourism portfolio to be replaced by one of Pak Lah’s favorite, Azalina (previously Sports Ministry). Jamaluddin Jarjis (Science & Tech) is finally gone despite (or because of) the much-hyped (and much criticized) Angkasawan project. Frankly speaking, they deserved to go.

What interest me more is the removal of Mohd Radzi (Home Affairs) and Azmi Khalid (Natural Resources). Is this a way for Pak Lah to punish those who did not toe the party line? Both Radzi and Azmi are seen as instrumental in persuading the Perlis assemblymen to support Md. Isa and not Shahidan as the next Mentri Besar of Perlis. As everyone in Malaysia knows, Shahidan was chosen by Pak Lah but, in an embarrassing situation, he was rejected by the Raja of Perlis. Pak Lah bowed down to pressure, and accepted Md. Isa, but I believe that he wasn’t too pleased with the whole episode.

Update: Malaysiakini just reported the resignation of Mohd Radzi from the post of Sec-Gen of UMNO and Barisan Nasional. He tendered his resignation today, citing that he can no longer work effectively under current circumstances.

I mean, why would you want two guys who basically disagree with your choice to serve in your government? Again, the question is, is this move politically motivated or for the good of the public?

Isn’t there anyone else?

The one to keep an eye on is Muhd Taib or Mike Tyson as he is more fondly known. His rise to the post of Minister (Rural and Regional Development) after years in the background showed how resilient he is and how savvy he is when it comes to his own political career.

In case anyone needs a reminder, Mike Tyson was previous the Selangor Menteri Besar who had to resign in 1997 after he was charged with trying to bring in RM 2.4 million (in cash apparently) into Australia. Of course, his credibility being questioned, and with investigation going on, he had to slip quietly into political wilderness.

But he remains within UMNO, always taking his time to make statements, just to remind everyone that he is still around. Despite having strong support from the grass root, he was not chosen by Khir Toyo to contest in Selangor (of course, Khir is scared that someone will take away his power). With Khir Toyo spectacular losses in Selangor, the path is now open for the former darling of UMNO to make a comeback and wrestle back Selangor.

The question remains the same. Credibility is an issue. But rest assure, by next election, Mike Tyson will be going for the K.O.

Pleasant Surprises

It was a pleasant surprise to hear that Zaid Ibrahim is moving up as Minister in charge of Legal Affairs in the PM Department. Zaid of course courted controversy within UMNO with his willingness to question current practices and was even disciplined before by UMNO. His frank and open opinion on the state of UMNO after GE 12 earned him extra points from UMNO supporters wanting to see changes and also the general public. His book, In Good Faith, is pretty enjoyable and showcased a man who believes in the fundamentals of democracy.

He couldn’t do worse than the man he replaced – Datuk Nazri Aziz. Nazri is still a minister though, but thankfully, the Minister of Law portfolio is no longer his. With incompetence and arrogance, Nazri has diminished the integrity of our judiciary and legal system by his mere presence. Every time he speaks, it’s as if I’m in the Twilight Zone and he’s an alien who couldn’t really understand what the rest of Planet Earth is talking.

Another good move was the inclusion of Shahrir Samad (Domestic Trade), the vocal member of UMNO who dared to cross the line by agreeing with an Opposition’s motion in Parliament (rightfully so). His desire for transparency and accountability in government’s actions are widely noted, and his presence lends a fair bit of credibility to the present line-up.

Let’s hope that Pak Lah doesn’t stop at the Cabinet level. There’s still a lot of work to be done. We need strength, we need intelligence, and we need decisiveness. Go figure.

Full list of cabinet

Those who missed out on the opportunity to make more money!!!

Those dropped from list

International Trade and Industry
Rafidah Aziz (Umno)

Human Resources
Dr Fong Chan Onn (MCA)

Home Affairs
Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad (Umno)

Science, Technology and Innovation
Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis (Umno)

Natural Resources and Environment
Azmi Khalid (Umno)

Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor (Umno)

Lost in 2008 general elections

S Samy Vellu (MIC)

Women, Family and Community Development
Shahrizat Abdul Jalil (Umno)

Zainuddin Maidin (Umno)

Rural and Regional Development
Abdul Aziz Shamsuddin (Umno)

Prime Minister's Department
Dr Abdullah Md Zin (Umno)

Declined to accept post

Housing and Local Government
Ong Ka Ting (MCA)

Did not contest parliament seat

Chan Kong Choy (MCA)

Prime Minister’s Department
Mohd Effendi Norwawi (PBB)

Those resigned and retired

Chua Soi Lek (MCA), resigned in January 2008

Energy, Water and Communications
Dr Lim Keng Yaik (Gerakan), retire from politics

Source: Malaysiakini

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