Thursday, 26 June 2008

Base cabinet positions on merit

(letter published in / Jun 25, 08 4:42 pm)

I refer to the Malaysiakini report Shadow cabinet: Possible PAS ministers.

While the reports indeed provided some interesting thoughts on cabinet ministers ‘in-waiting’, I believe a Pakatan Rakyat government should offer an approach in governance that is markedly different from the existing Barisan Nasional government.

Firstly, although the size of the cabinet has been reduced after the last general election from 32 to 27 seats, the size can and should be further reduced. Under the PR government, more ministries should be merged and the number of ministerial positions reduced to only about 20 seats.

Secondly, on the traditional approach of appointing personnel based on seniority, the PR government should look more at academic qualification and relevant professional experience instead. Tony Pua (DAP) for example, although a first time member of Parliament, should be seriously considered for the portfolio of International Trade.

Likewise, the young professionals in PAS like Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad and Dr Hatta Ramli should be seen as more suitable candidates for cabinet positions than others from the party.

Ministerial positions should not be perceived as just ‘rewards’ for senior members of political parties. They should be handed to the people deemed most capable to head a particular ministry. The PR government should have ministers who are ‘hands-on’ in their approach, who understand the detailed operations of their respective ministries.

Members of Parliament without cabinet positions can also contribute in ensuring effective governance through their involvement in the various parliamentary committees. These committees should be given full authority to evaluate decisions made by the government and freedom to access all official documents. The committees should also be given the power to summon any minister for a hearing whenever necessary.

Finally, on the distribution of cabinet positions among PR component parties, ideally, this should not be an important matter. Cabinet appointments should be made entirely based on merit.

Nonetheless, I do realise that this may not be possible for the time being but I do hope that a time will come in the near future where this, as well the issue of racial composition of cabinet members, would no longer be of great concern for the people of this nation.

No comments: