PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said he will think about cabinet reshuffle when asked by the media. There is great possibility that the reshuffle could take place after the Pelangai by-election.
Cabinet reshuffle is nothing unique to the unity government as it represents a periodic approach to make the government of the day more effective in terms of rendering public services.
There have been numerous cabinet reshuffles in the past. However, whether a cabinet reshuffle will make the government more effective and responsive remains to be seen.
Anyway, what needs to be done as promised needs to be done. Recently, some top civil servants have been rotated to head different ministries and departments.
Again, the litmus test is whether such transfers have brought about the desired results envisioned in the rationale behind the move.
No government is free from politics. The need to reshuffle could have political motives that might be hidden or well camouflaged from the eyes of the public.
As it is, there are no hints from Anwar or the media about the cabinet changes or the ministries that will be replaced by new ministers.
Of course, there are rumours that the controversial Human Resource Ministry might get a new minister. Whether the present minister will be transferred to another ministry or dropped is not clear.
Overall, the performance of ministers have not been up to the mark as they are seen as not being part of the change or reforms promised by the unity government.
Although I am not privy to cabinet discussions, reforms that were promised have taken a back seat. How can ministers function effectively if they are not focused on the respective reforms pertaining to their ministries?
The Education Minister behaves like a school teacher who is more interested in announcing religious programmes to schools rather than examining what ails the education system in the country.
The quota of ethnic entry into matriculation programmes and public universities have been put beyond the scope of public debate in the fear that such discussion might affect political stability of the government.
If reforms are not part of the unity government agenda, then it should be said so to the public. The public can then decide at an appropriate time whether the government will have the political mandate.
There must be good and logical reason why there is need for a cabinet reshuffle. If cabinet reshuffle is simply a ritualistic aspect, then the reshuffle might not have any value.
Insofar as the unity government is concerned, no reshuffle will be complete if the reshuffle is not guided by the reform agenda of the government.
Let us not forget that the reform agenda was the main reason why the present unity government was elected to power last year. Whether it is cabinet reshuffle, the transfer of the top civil servants and others must be measured in relation to reforms.
Cabinet reshuffle should not be perceived as a game of musical chairs where the sitting arrangement of the participants are merely changed. – Sept 28, 2023
Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the former DAP state assemblyman for Perai. He is also the former deputy chief minister II of Penang.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.