GOVERNMENT adviser Tun Daim Zainuddin said last week that Malaysia’s international relations policy would be much improved if the Foreign Ministry can merge with the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti). The merged body can be called the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry.
Daim’s statement reminded me of Gerard Lourdesamy’s recommendations on streaming the new government.
He had recommended that the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry, as well as Miti, be merged with the Economic Affairs Ministry.
He had also recommended that the Prime Minister’s Department (comprising 62 departments and agencies, and 15 statutory bodies) be revamped.
It cannot be denied the mood to streamline the government had been in the air since the Pakatan Harapan government took over Putrajaya.
Several measures were mooted, such as Suhakam, the Election Commission and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and nine government agencies operating independently and reporting directly to Parliament.
Several entitles had been dissolved, including the National Professors Council and the Land Public Transport Commission. Fourteen Islamic agencies would also be restructured and not dissolved as claimed by certain quarters.
Khazanah Nasional Bhd and Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) would come under the Prime Minister’s Department and not under the Economic Affairs Ministry.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad stated that Khazanah had deviated from its original goals.
Gua Musang member of parliament Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah told reporters in Parliament on July 31 last year that it is the prerogative of the Pakatan Harapan government to restructure the government-linked companies.
In October last year, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said the government would streamline the departments and agencies involved in the property sector.
With this new initiative, she hoped that housing data would be consolidated, enabling policymakers, stakeholders and the government to have a better overview of the housing industry.
The data could lead to the creation of a system to help the government project demand and housing needs.
On Oct 16 last year, Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali said that the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) was facing a very critical cash flow problem, forcing it to restructure RM8 billion in debt, and dispose of non-strategic assets.
On Oct 27 last year, Dr Mahathir said the ongoing restructuring policies would strengthen the country’s capacity to absorb global shocks or financial turbulence in the years ahead.
On Nov 23 last year, the Entrepreneur Development Ministry announced it was restructuring the roles of over 60 agencies in accordance with the National Entrepreneurship Framework aimed at resolving overlapping roles, as well as to rationalise functions.
Public-sector restructuring is occurring in many jurisdictions across the globe and is not peculiar to Malaysia.
In Jordan, King Abdullah II has consistently told the government to focus on restructuring and rehabilitating the civil service.
China’s National People’s Congress passed a series of constitutional amendments to empower the executive body to carry out a massive government overhaul.
The move to restructure bureaucracy was to make the government more efficient and service-oriented which resulted in the creation of several new ministries, including the Ecological Environment Ministry, Emergency Management Ministry and the Culture and Tourism Ministry.
Uganda carried out a comprehensive review and restructuring of 62 ministries, departments and agencies from July 2010 to April 2015.
The objective of the review was to identify inconsistencies, weaknesses, duplications, performance gaps and functional ambiguities and to formulate recommendations for redress.
A 103-page document entitled “Making and Breaking Whitehall Departments” by the Institute for the UK government makes inspiring reading on how British prime ministers continued to restructure and streamline Whitehall across the last three decades.
In America, the Trump administration had formulated a “new reorganisation plan” in June last year. The plan proposed moving the food stamp programme from one department to another, merging two federal departments (education and labour) and privatising the postal service.
Senator Patty Murray said the restructuring plan was likely to face serious opposition in Congress.
I do not foresee Putrajaya facing any opposition in carrying out its restructuring plan.
The writer formerly served the Attorney-General’s Chambers before he left for private practice, the corporate sector and academia