Small is beautiful: Five key ideas for Anwar’s Cabinet

SO Malaysia’s 10th Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is now hard at work to draw up his so-called unity government’s line-up. Here’s my top five suggestions:

  • Appointment of new cabinet

Anwar has an easy job as he wanted to downsize his Cabinet. Make sure that the key leaders in coalition parties are made the first choice candidates.

Give the Ministry of Finance, for example, to only people with a high level of integrity. He/she may not need to be a lawmaker, but someone who understands how to manage fiscal policies to improve the country’s financial standing.

With half the salary, Anwar can get more altruistic people to serve in his Cabinet. Of course, these ministers need to be able to survive and live comfortably, but their altruism will drive them to great heights.

Go for the bonus scheme. If they do a great job, reward them accordingly to compensate their hard work and their willingness to take on the job at half the salary. After all, who will work without a salary?

Even a soldier does not serve his country without a pay no matter how patriotic they may be. Do not muzzle the ox that threshes the floor.

  • Get MPs to build the economy of their respective constituencies

MPs are voted in by the people for the people. Get them to work on the local economy such as promoting local tourism and job creation.

State assemblyman for Sekinchan, Ng Sueu Lim, for example, has exemplified what I call a local statesman. When we drove into Sekinchan, the first thing I saw was a poster of him welcoming people to Sekinchan. Before this, I hardly heard about Sekinchan.

MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) stations are overbuilt in sizes. Time to create spaces for single mothers to set up their booths there for a small token sum. Encourage people to spend their day touring smaller towns using MRT to access these places.

  • Call on all industry players to form their own task force and think tanks

Anwar alone will not be able to do everything if everyone expects him to deliver. Stakeholders must be directly involved in implementing their own dreams and plans.

Only these national bodies will be able to assist the Cabinet in bringing Malaysia to the next level. Grants can be given progressively, but based on their level of achievements to encourage transparency and meritocracy.

What the industry expects to see is more like how the government can expedite their approvals, whether in projects that can benefit the industry or their own business entities. The last thing they want is for certain individuals who expect something in return for the approvals to throw the spanner on their gears.

Often, after coming out with their proposals, their proposals are ignored or worse still, their ideas are cannibalised by others.

  • Promote Malaysia as the regional hub for education and tourism

Both the Education Ministry and Tourism and Culture Ministry should work together to promote Malaysia.

Some 20 years ago, I came out with a proposal which was enthusiastically agreed upon by the then tourism minister Tan Sri Abdul Kadir bin Sheikh Fadzir. He immediately asked his then director-General Datuk Abdullah Jonid to call me on a Sunday evening. I met up with him the following day.

The Tourism Ministry would be able to support but the lead must come from the Education Ministry. But the then education minister Tan Sri Musa Mohamad hardly even showed interest.

When Tan Sri Ong Tee Keat became deputy minister, I also gave him a copy of my proposal after a meeting with other senior people from the education industry. I never heard from him again.

Get Bernama to be involved in promoting Malaysia. Their news pick up rate will increase if they have news on education, tourism and investment opportunities.

  • What to do with 1.8 million public servants?

If you do not want to sack some of the bad hats or deadwoods so to speak – you will still have to account for their salaries.

Why not create opportunities for them to fill up the many vacancies in the private sector?

Meanwhile, the government can reduce its burden as the private sector can be made to bear half of their salaries. The hirers will also be able to benefit from this arrangement, while the younger ones will have the opportunity to be promoted.

This will allow the public servants to transition into post-retirement employment where they will eventually get to enjoy both their EPF (Employees Provident Fund) and pensions. – Nov 27, 2022


Stephen Ng
Kuala Lumpur

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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