Adham, Khairy, Reezal Merican typify Ismail Sabri’s new age thinking in selfless service

On Aug 27, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob unveiled his new, all-star Cabinet line-up to an expectant world.

It was reminiscent of former US president Barack Obama’s cabinet. Like the towering inspiration that is Obama, this was a Cabinet rich in diversity, a Cabinet full of hope and promise, a Cabinet that celebrated the richness and diversity of the human spirit, and the triumph over adversity, and the occasional speech impediment.

The grotesquely bloated cabinet of 32 ministers and 38 deputy ministers of the previous administration had been whittled down, trimmed, chopped up, and decimated. The bloodletting was merciless, brought on, no doubt by the harsh economic realities of the pandemic.

When the dust finally settled, a new and lean Cabinet, comprising 31 ministers and 38 deputy ministers was presented to the world. Bean counters are still crunching the numbers, but the savings in taxpayers’ ringgit is probably in the region of billions.

In what has to be the gutsiest move I ever saw since Maverick performed a split -S against an adversary A-4 Scooter in Top Gun, Ismail Sabri announced to the world that there’s a new sheriff in town and this was a new political landscape.

His Cabinet heralded a new age of doing business, where political patronage, of peppering the gilded halls of power with political appointees, would no longer be tolerated. No more ‘fren-fren’ deals. This is clearly evident, just by looking at the fresh, new, unrecycled faces.

Instead, in the spirit of ‘Keluarga Malaysia’, this functional group of highly trained professionals will bring fresh new ideas, cutting edge approaches and innovative concepts like you wouldn’t believe. Really.

Like a pistol-packin’ sheriff, Ismail Sabri means business. From the get-go, he told his ministers that they have only 100 days (minus 10) to prove they deserved to stay. “This is a performance-driven administration,” he declared.

This style of management is certainly novel and seems to have the desired effect. In a sea of fast swimmers, three individuals stand out as being true believers of this concept of doing more for the rakyat.

One of them is former health minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba. His sterling service, par excellence, as health minister in the previous government, had endeared him to Malaysians who sought out his health tips, the way newbie punters keyed in to investment advice on the great YT, or like a hairy donkey to warm water.

His current portfolio as Science, Technology and Innovation Minister is a considerable departure from health, as one would expect.

These days, he should be more concerned with the chemical properties of, let’s say the Spanish Fly, for instance (that’s the science bit), and how Malaysia could mass produce the product (the technology aspect of his new portfolio), and do it better and more efficiently than the Spaniards (this is where innovation kicks in).

What a welcome relief it must be for the right honourable gentleman from Rembau, Khairy Jamaluddin, to have a comrade who is more than willing to shoulder part of his responsibilities as health minister (both men having swapped ministries in the recent shindig).

Dr Adham’s commitment to medicine should be lauded, nay, celebrated, by all and sundry. Despite being the numero uno in MOSTI, the good doctor had been issuing statements on Covid-19 and the vaccination, with verve and aplomb.

This spirit of cooperation seemed to have rubbed off on Khairy too, judging from his tweets and pronouncements on the new features, the rolling updates and new look for the MySejahtera app – which technically, falls under Dr Adham’s domain.

Coincidentally, both men are in the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF).

This ‘I got your back, bro’ approach to government cuts through the bureaucratic logjam and red tape. The result? Clear, unambiguous messaging as to who is really in charge. Just what the country needs right now.

Not to be outdone, Housing and Local Government Minister, Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican, believes that athlete Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli, who was “robbed” of his gold medal in the recent Tokyo Paralympics, should be rewarded for his efforts, despite being disqualified in the men’s shot put F20 event.

Meanwhile, the country is waiting with bated breath for news on the housing aid for the victims of the recent floods in Yan, Kedah, from Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu.

This is the sort of new age thinking that Malaysia sorely needs. Ministers should take a leaf from Dr Adham, Khairy and Reezal Merican’s approach to selfless service to the people, jurisdiction be damned. Despite being bogged down by their current duties, they still take the time to dabble in matters pertaining to their previous ministries. It’s like they never left.

For this writer at least, these men deserve an ‘A’ for ‘affort’.

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