Malaysian ministers’ first-year report cards

PH government

It’s been a year since the historic 14th general election when Malaysians gave the ‘kleptocratic’ government under Barisan Nasional the boot.

Pakatan Harapan’s entry into Putrajaya was dubbed ‘Malaysia Baru’. But here’s a reality check – the last we heard Malaysia is not a republic; the key players were once BN leaders who called the shots; and Malaysians still love to triple park with one Klang Valley mall even endorsing this ugly practice. Food remains our best unifying factor.

So it’s pretty much the same Malaysia.

Malaysians are a demanding lot. They can’t wait to see certain former leaders go behind bars. They want reforms at the snap of Thanos’ fingers. And they seek a lower cost of living.

Alas, Rome was not built in a day and reforms naturally take time. But this does not absolve the Pakatan Harapan government as it is fraught with flaws.

And some of these ministers, with little to zero experience in governance (or even having a job) and their equally inexperienced crew, continue to live in their bubble.

Twentytwo13 takes a brief and wee bit cheeky look at how our ministers fared since Pakatan Harapan came to power. It’s not a comprehensive assessment but we tried to pick the salient points. Some may agree, others not.

The prime minister has given a 5/10 performance score for his Cabinet – hardly flattering by any means. He, however, brushed aside the likelihood of a reshuffle. What would your score be?

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

Persistent man. Persistent in bringing Najib and gang to book. Persistent in implementing third national car project. Reasons for not fulfilling manifesto pledges – “It’s not the holy book”, “We didn’t expect to win”, etc. Has travelled much to boost diplomatic relations. At 93 and still kicking, he puts certain little boys to shame.

Deputy Prime Minister & Women, Community and Family Development Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail

She must have been fanning herself furiously when she took the hot seat. But she has quickly learnt the ropes. Has given a louder voice to women and children. Instrumental in ensuring there are nurseries in workplace at government facilities and Parliament and introducing a new EPF scheme for housewives. Having played second fiddle to her husband for over 20 years, it will be interesting to see whether she and her team stay on if and when Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim takes over.

Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin

Has been rather quiet, given his health condition. Thrown into the limelight as peacemaker following the Johor palace-state government impasse but seems to be in a spot following escalating spat between Dr Mahathir and the Johor royal family.

Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu

Dubbed ‘Rambo’, Mat Sabu stood his ground when opponents came with guns blazing after his son tested positive for drugs during an anti-vice raid. Mat Sabu’s ministry ended practice of giving out honarary titles to politicians and celebrities and has assured veterans they will be taken care of.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng

Claimed Malaysia’s debt was at RM1 trillion. Abolished GST but prices of essential goods and services remain the same if not higher under SST. That finger must be hurting by the endless pointing at former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Has promised improvements in years to come. We better not say more or he will threaten to sue.

Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali 

Best Raya gift Azmin can give his staff is by clearing files piling up on his desk. Has been travelling quite a bit and been kept busy cleaning up Felda. Dr Mahathir’s ‘blue-eyed boy’ and the finance minister should make amends and start communicating to avoid another ECRL boo-boo.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik

Given the high expectations for education, nobody would want to be in his shoes. He got off on the wrong footing and critics socked it to him for his black shoes idea. Another proposal that drowned as soon as it was mooted was opening hotel swimming pools to schools. The latest issue is the increased quota for matriculation. Some say Maszlee has more substance. About time he stepped it up then.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke

Said to be the best of the lot with his no-nonsense approach except for one black Spad … oops, spot. Then there’s the brouhaha over the Chinese New Year open house live telecast, although that was his press secretary’s doing (or undoing?).

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad

His honest diagnosis of the public health landscape is refreshing. Has introduced more programmes, particularly for the B40 group. Best achievement – making our eateries smoke-free although a good number of ‘inconvenienced’ people tend to disagree.

Human Resources Minister M. Kula Segaran

Got fried over ‘suggestion’ on foreign cooks ban in restaurants without realising Immigration laws allow foreigners only in the kitchen. Also paid the price for government’s minimum wage increase which was much less than promised. Has been advocating Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET).

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo

Thank you for cheaper and (slightly) faster WiFi. Stinging comments on Telekom Malaysia hurt the telco badly but consumers aren’t complaining. Called for the clamping down of ‘negative comments’ on social media but later clarified he urged news portals to self-regulate. Speaks about setting up a media council – something which has been spoken about for 30 years – but has yet to reach out to key stakeholders, including the National Press Club.

Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Salahuddin Ayob

Continued some of his predecessor’s programmes, including bringing durian to China. Should reach out to his senior officers to rejuvenate the industry. Thrown into the limelight when his political secretary was arrested for receiving an expensive watch.

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin

Earned a high degree of chastising from political rivals for being one of those with ‘fake paper qualifications’. Strong proponent of restoring local government elections. Under her watch, Highland Towers will finally be demolished. Must make time to listen to grouses of her constituents in Ampang which is sandwiched between development of expressways and massive land-clearing.

Rural Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Harun

Made it clear she seems passive because she is busy working. Received thumbs-up for Desa Digital programme and creating job opportunities for youths. Rina, however, received flak for her stand on not allowing transgenders to teach at Kemas kindergartens.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah

All eyes on his ministry following withdrawal from endorsing Rome Statute, the oft frosty Malaysia-Singapore relationship and ties with China. In the spotlight after Israeli para-swimmer was not granted visa to compete in World Para Swimming Championship in Kuching. This led the International Paralympic Council to strip Malaysia of the right to host the event.

Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad

His critics call him Tengku Adnan 2.0 (in reference to his predecessor Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor). Needs to be more sensitive to the views of stakeholders and must drop ‘minister knows best’ mentality.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohammadin Ketapi

Is he on holiday? Because there’s the big task of preparing for Visit Malaysia 2020. Promotions seem rather slow. Needs to understand Malaysia is not only about malls in Kuala Lumpur, the food in Penang and beautiful beaches on the east coast and in Sabah. Malaysia has so much more to offer and he needs to think big.

Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin

Just like what it says in her portfolio, she been full of energy since Day 1, championing climate change issues, addressing Sungai Kim Kim toxic pollution and declaring war on illegal plastic waste smugglers. Remarkably managed to find time to get married.

Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman

Sigh …

International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking

Trying hard to boost trade, including with China. US thinks China’s Huawei is a national threat but not Darell. He also doesn’t see the weakening of the ringgit as a problem.

Entrepreneur Development Minister Redzuan Md Yusof

Has his head somewhere in the clouds. Malaysians are waiting for our first flying car.

Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok

Struggling with palm oil issue and was “bambu-ed” for suggesting Felda settlers switch to planting bamboo. Needs experts to help her in her cause.

Works Minister Baru Bian

Abolished toll for motorcyclists in peninsular Malaysia and stresses total abolition as pledged Pakatan Harapan will be done in stages. Remains to be seen if Baru Bian and Co will be able to uphold that promise or they will be the ones paying the toll for failure.

Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar

From finalising the Selangor water restructuring deal within a month after taking office to pledging to pay more attention to the water industry, the physician has also declared war on poachers to save Malayan tigers. Displayed humility trait by admitting he could not have done it without the help of his secretary-general and officers.

Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail

Has the huge duty of tackling rising cost of food and consumer products. Business owners have been hauled up for raising prices. Was instrumental in nationwide food bank initiative. Will be kept busy checking on prices ahead of Hari Raya.

National Unity and Social Wellbeing Minister P. Waythamoorthy

Got into mess with temple fracas issue. Fulfilled duty as unity minister when all sides were one in hammering him. Little else from him.

Law Minister Liew Vui Keong

Shouldering a huge task to ensure Pakatan Harapan lives up to its promise of pushing for law reforms. Some argue it is taking longer than expected. Instrumental in pushing for abolition of the Anti-Fake News Act and mandatory death penalty although these have yet to see fruition. It’s the same for amendment of Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution which aims to restore Sabah and Sarawak’s status as equal partners in the Federation of Malaysia. Also wants to set up a law commission.

Religuous Affairs Minister Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa

Commended for his call to ban child marriage and his stand that khalwat raids will only be done if there are complaints with solid basis. Seems to have his heart in the right place on most issues but Kekanda Mujahid baffled everyone with his open letter to Adinda Nurul Izzah Anwar late last year.

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