When Mahathir announced the composition of his cabinet 1.0, there was an outcry from certain quarters in PKR, decrying the notion that the party was not allocated any important ministerial position (and obviously ignoring the fact that it holds the deputy prime ministership and is promised the prime ministership). We command the largest bloc of MPs and deserve therefore the lion’s share of power (my interpretation).
That view received widespread condemnation, with the public pouring scorn on the idea winning GE14 is about enjoying the spoils of the victory. The public view is basically, “stop thinking about yourselves and start thinking about the welfare of the country”.
Now that cabinet 2.0 has been sworn in, a report in Malay Mail quotes the Fitch Group research outfit:
The Fitch Group research outfit said although PKR and DAP have the most ministerial and deputy ministerial positions totalling 15 and 12 respectively, a Cabinet line-up strictly proportionate with parties’ parliamentary seat count should see PKR holding 19 positions, DAP (17 positions), Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) (five positions), Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) (five positions), and Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) (three positions), with two positions to spare.
PPBM, Amanah and Warisan instead have 10, nine and five Cabinet positions respectively.
It is surprising that a research team from the international ratings group should fail to note the sentiment on the ground with respect to this notion that ministerial appointments should follow strictly and proportionately the number of parliamentary seat count by party.
While it is true the formation of the cabinet has taken a long time, likely due to intense negotiations in the background, it would be fatal for any political party to make this matter the focus of any disagreement among the component parties.
It is interesting to note that PKR has been publicly silent while the protest from DAP came from the youth wing.
Even more surprising is the research group alluding to racial composition as being an issue, noting that PPBM and Amanah are Malay dominated parties.
“While the number of Cabinet positions that was allocated to each party was in rough accordance to their seat count, the two largest parties, centrist Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and secular Democratic Action Party (DAP) are under-represented in the Cabinet, whereas the Malay-dominated parties Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) enjoy over-representation.
“This has likely resulted in some dissatisfaction among PKR and DAP and in our view, will potentially emerge as a flashpoint in inter-party relations within the PH coalition,” said BMI Research.
What they have failed to emphasize is the fact that it would be a mistake for Pakatan Harapan to emulate Barisan Nasional, by making race and religion a central core of its union. The basis of its manifesto is its vision for a government that will work for the good of the country, rather than one that has a power-sharing formula between race and religion and political parties.
For better or for worse, this is the platform it has represented itself to the nation which voted them into power. It would be in the interest of all parties in Pakatan Harapan to demonstrate that they are willing to set aside self interest in the interest of the nation.
Finally I wish to quote the writer at FinanceTwitter.com, who has a much better view of the cabinet composition:
One can argue until the cows come home but PKR (8 ministers), DAP (6 ministers), Amanah (5 ministers) and PPBM (6 ministers) have been allocated portfolios based on “equal partnership”. Such formula would prevent Pakatan Harapan from becoming Barisan Nasional 2.0 where the weak component parties will always get bullied and discriminated.
No doubt in the negotiations for cabinet positions self-interest will come into play. That is what negotiations are all about. No doubt certain parties have to give way in order to come to an agreement. In this I applaud DAP, who, at state level and also at federal level, have shown a willingness to take on a lesser role (though perhaps some are less and less willing to do so).
But everyone, politicians and also others whose role is to observe and analyse, everyone should be mindful that we want to empower the idea that the greater good of the nation must come before our personal ambitions and desire to be recognised and rewarded. We should not fan the flames of race and religion, nor the narrow view at state level (an analyst opines that the cabinet composition is a slap on the face for Sarawakians partly because the Sarawakian in the cabinet who is “only” a deputy minister is much more senior to Syed Saddiq who was made minister. This analyst should have noted that it is a slap in the face for ALL deputy ministers because he is the youngest.)
I have no idea how this cabinet will perform. It is likely some will do well and others less so. There is no need to rehash all the old tired arguments about who deserves what, and which group or sex have been snubbed or favoured, and whether race and/or religion is reflected in decisions. We now have the opportunity to be more politically mature. We should give these men and women the opportunity to show us what they can do, now that they have been appointed.