ANALYSIS: All eyes on Cabinet line-up

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Kuala Lumpur (The Star/ANN) - Prime Minister Najib Razak's immediate priority is to introduce an effective Cabinet that can face up to the challenges ahead.

Aman who goes by the letter "T" has been a government servant for the last three decades. He has moved up the ranks and now holds a senior position in a key ministry.

As Malaysians wait eagerly for Prime Minister Najib Razak to announce his Cabinet, "T" was pretty nonchalant.

"I have worked with four ministers. All I want is someone who is competent and devotes his time to the ministry.

"It is equally important that the person appointed will not do anything that is not in line with good governance," he said.

"T" voted for the ruling party but noted that Barisan Nasional cannot ignore Pakatan Rakyat which seems to appeal to the younger generation.

He wonders about the Cabinet line-up and which direction this government will take.

The Cabinet before Parliament was dissolved was made up of 28 ministers plus 40 deputy ministers. That means 68 members of Parliament.

Barisan has 133 MPs and going by the last Cabinet set up, one in two of these elected representatives will be part of the administration.

Will the Prime Minister do this or will he downsize his administration?

Padang Rengas MP Nazri Aziz favours more MPs to be appointed.

"A good balance will be 50-50. (50 per cent of the MPs become members of the administration and the other half remains as backbenchers.)

"We need a strong backbencher team in Parliament," said Nazri, who was Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of law and Parliament in the last Cabinet.

However, Nazri is all for reducing the number of ministries.

"Fewer number of ministers but appoint more deputies to assist the Cabinet members," he said, adding that he believed that Najib would have new faces in his Cabinet.

"I am an old face; I have served three Prime Ministers and been a minister for 14 years. I know it is the prerogative of the Prime Minister but he has to consider the rakyat's expectations.

"If you don't introduce new faces, then there is no pembaharuan (renewal)."

Another minister, who did not want to be named, admitted that there would be big challenges ahead for anyone appointed to any Cabinet post. "It is not about perks of being a minister but about the responsibilities. Civil servants' duty is to implement the policies but a minister is part and parcel of the government of the day and we must be clear in the real objective of this government."

He likens his stint working as a minister with civil servants to that of a marriage.

"The first year you get to know each other, the second year, to adjust and by the third year, you will know whether you will survive."

Malaysians seem to have their own idea of a dream Cabinet. It is about having a mix team of experienced people and those ready to inject new ideas.

There are already speculation among senior government servants that the new Cabinet might see ministries merged or split.

Najib has also indicated in the Barisan manifesto that with 70 per cent of Malaysians living in urban areas, a new ministry will be set up to handle urban affairs and to address public transportation.

Is real change on the way as far as the Cabinet is concerned?

All one can hope for from those appointed is commitment, interest in the job and ability to keep their nose clean. Let's hope this is not too much to ask.

COPYRIGHT: ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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