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The Biggest Cabinet January 12, 2006

Posted by Tim in Malaysia.
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I’m surprised there’s no Malaysia Book of Records entry for the biggest Cabinet. After all our Cabinet is bigger than that of India or Australia, and is probably the biggest in the world factoring population size.

When PM Abdullah Badawi was being packaged by the MCAPeople’s Paper as the person who was going to shake up the country and give us a clean, trustworthy government (funny they never reported anything amiss when Mahathir was in office), a lot of hype centered around the Cabinet reshuffle he was expected to make. His first Cabinet formed in March 2004 was a disappointment even to the most die-hard fan: most of the old guard stayed on, and the Cabinet was actually expanded. I thought a 90% majority in Parliament would mean less red tape, not more.

The reasoning at the time was that he needed to win over UMNO in its general elections before making any major changes. That came and went too. Then his wife’s illness and subsequent passing was offered as an excuse… Recently the online grapevines and media were abuzz with rumours that Abdullah was (finally) preparing to make his big shuffle. But yesterday the Star reported a quote from the PM on the Cabinet:

“I have no inspiration yet”

Well there you have it – he’s still waiting for inspiration. I remember someone commenting on a blog about the saying that went “99% perspiration, 1% inspiration”…

It’s been two years without anything concrete from our PM in reforming the government. Lim Kit Siang observes that Malaysia has actually fallen from 37th to 39th place in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. We have seen a year of AP drama, numerous police vs human rights scandals, persecution of the press, dubious elections. But perhaps the absence of action is more worrying. When Abdullah Badawi first took power there were a few high-profile corruption cases that got all our hopes up that something was finally going to get done. Funnily enough I can’t recall anything this year – was no one corrupt in 2005? Trying to get information from the Anti-Corruption Agency’s website was humorous, the page has not been updated since 2003.

Remember the much-lauded Royal Police Commission Report and its 125 recommendations, followed by a rebranding of the police complete with new motto and everything? And yet we still have Squatgate and many many other reports of police abuse. Naturally the PM’s solution to Squatgate was to recommend yet another commission. One begins to detect a pattern here. And it has been pointed out that before his ascension to PM, Abdullah Badawi was Home Affairs Minister and hence in charge of the police.

Malaysians are becoming increasingly cynical and disillusioned with the Government. Everyday we are drowned with rhetoric from the ministers and rosy pictures from the media, but somehow nothing seems to change.

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