MERRY Christmas! To all friends celebrating Christmas on Tuesday, I hope everyone will have a great time with their families and well-wishers. Nothing can be more meaningful than a get-together to celebrate a happy occasion.
December has always been associated with holidays and vacations. Even ministers often take their annual leave and go on a short break.
December has always been a slow month for work, but fast and furious about getaways and vacations.
It is hoped that everyone will return with renewed spirit and vigour to resume work. Many people have been moaning and groaning that 2018 is a difficult year, and are eagerly waiting for the new one.
For the last seven months or so, everyone was watching with full anticipation what the Pakatan Harapan government is offering after successfully wresting power from Barisan Nasional.
The euphoria is fading fast. Or, has faded completely. The voting public is asking many questions. There’s a question from everyone directed to those in the government. And the opposition is not spared, too.
Many eyes are on cabinet ministers. With the exception of a very few, many of them have no experience in governmental matters, which have made them open targets for the public.
I’ve come across a survey on social media which listed several ministers said to be underperforming. I’m not sure how comprehensive was the survey, but it does provide a glimpse of what the people feel about the ministers.
The survey said there are seven ministers whose reputations have given the new government a bad name. They are — Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of national unity, Senator P. Waytha Moorthy, another Minister in the Prime Minister Department in charge of religious affairs, Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik, Human Resource Minister M. Kulasegaran, Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Saifuddin Nasution Ismail and Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi.
When they were opposition politicians, a few of them were vocal critics of the BN-led government. They seemed to know what was wrong with the government and had ideas on how the government should be run.
But once they donned the ministerial hat, they seemed to have lost their direction and found themselves short on ideas and even shorter on execution. Apa sudah jadi ,YB?
Waytha Moorthy seemed to have topped the list of underperforming ministers. He has yet to fully shed the image of a government critic and has not shown
the “unity” agenda, which is the portfolio given to him by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Waytha Moorthy was a Hindraf leader. But as a government minister, he has to lead the unity agenda and promote unity intensely. If he has not done so, he must get his act together. Mind you, there is mounting pressure for him to be replaced following the violent rioting at the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Subang Jaya, Selangor, recently. The rioting claimed the life of fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim, who was beaten at the scene.
Adib and his colleagues were sent to the scene to help put out fires set by rioters. He was beaten up instead and succumbed to his injuries last Monday. Many people felt that more could have been done to stop the violence and that the presence of Waytha Moorthy could have stemmed the violence quickly.
His colleague, Kulasegaran, is another minister singled out to have not risen to the occasion after joining the cabinet. For the record, in the past, the Human Resource Ministry was often led by Indian ministers, save for a period when it was under Tan Sri Lee San Choon, from MCA. It was then known as the Labour and Manpower Ministry.
Kulasegaran has yet to make a positive impact in the ministry. It is the same with the education minister. Maszlee’s suggestion to change shoes for schoolchildren from white to black has not gone down well, just as his remarks that the 1Malaysia Development Bhd financial scandal and all those involved would be included in school textbooks.
What is it with the cabinet ministers? Salahuddin and Saifuddin, too, have not made much impact. They were among the more vocal critics of the previous government. But all of them have yet to show true ministerial leadership, which has led to calls for them to be replaced.
Dr Mahathir, however, is not one to do that just because some sections of the public are demanding so.
The ministers must buck up. I had said before that they are on a short learning curve. If they fail to grasp the task at hand, they should do the right thing, that is, make way for others. They should not embarrass the prime minister. Most importantly, they should not shortchange the people who voted for them in the first place.
Maybe they should pay a visit to Transport Minister Anthony Loke and see how the Seremban member of parliament settled down quickly after his inclusion in the cabinet.
The writer is chairman of Yayasan Salam Malaysia