Sunday, November 30, 2008

Anwar Ibrahim evading formation of shadow cabinet?

Malaysiakini - Form shadow cabinet immediately, Pakatan chief told.

Some months ago, my matey Kian Ming, a political science PhD candidate and a regular columnist at Malaysiakini, wrote of the need for the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) to form a shadow cabinet, an alternative government so to speak.

In a shadow cabinet individual opposition MPs would be assigned specific portfolios to monitor his/her opposite number in the government.

Like a fullback in a soccer game, the shadow minister for a portfolio tackles his/her assigned minister and the ministry’s policies, plans and implementation, and not only to challenge these but also to counter offer the opposition policies and plans.

Only in such practice would an opposition party have legitimacy in presenting itself as an alternate government.

Just making grandiose but nonsensical promise (rather than sound policies), such as the mythical 916, is not good enough, well, at least for people who can think and see through the nebulous bull.

I vaguely recall that in Kian Ming’s recommendations, the ethnic equation in the formation of the shadown cabinet was of vital importance. It was not just a simple case of PKR:PAS:DAP ratio-lizing.

Certain key ministries had to be allocated only to the Malay parties, namely PAS and naturally the Malay component of PKR.

I can't recall Kian Ming's exact recommendation but I would imagine the key ministries, sensitive to ethnic pride, fears and strategising, would be (i) PM, (ii) DPM, (iii) Home, (iv) Defence, (v) Finance, (vi) Wismaputra, (vii) Information, and a jolly good No 8 for luck, (viii) Education.

Apart from Kian Ming, a number of NGOs had recently told Anwar to get on with the formation of a shadow cabinet, which incidentally Anwar promised to do so prior to the Permatang Pauh by-election.

But like most promises Anwar Ibrahim had made, including the disciplining of the PKR Kulim Thug, reformasi, 916, etc, they have not been fulfilled.

Now, his own PKR members are yelling for such a shadow cabinet.

Why has Anwar Ibrahim been so politically negligent in not forming such a shadow cabinet. If Uncle Lim had been the Opposition Leader he would have done so immediately after 08 March 08.

My matey Dean Johns, had remarked in his Malaysiakini column Pakatan is failing the rakyat:

But what about the shadow cabinet that any opposition worth its salt is supposed to form?

A shadow cabinet performs two vital functions. One, it affords the leading lights in the opposition the opportunity to develop and demonstrate their abilities in designated portfolios in preparation for when they come to power. And two, it puts pressure on incumbent ministers to do their jobs properly.

But Pakatan has made no apparent attempt to select a team of shadow ministers, thereby allowing itself to look to the voters like a rabble that can't get its act together, let alone ever be trusted to run the nation, and letting BN government ministers run as much riot as ever.

It's not as if Pakatan lacks an example of everything a shadow ministry should be. Lim Kit Siang is a world-class exponent of the art of opposition.

Take a look at his latest inquisition into government criminality and incompetence: a barrage of intelligent and incisive questions to Tourism Minister Azalina Othman Said about the scandals surrounding the Pempena Group of companies.

It's a copybook example of parliamentary opposition at its best. But as unrelentingly watchful and outspoken as Lim is, he can’t be expected to do the job of an entire shadow cabinet. He's only one man, after all, and he's not getting any younger. So it's high time Pakatan started building a team in his image.

Since 08 March 08, it is the very person of Uncle Lim Kit Siang who has demonstrated his political responsibility, competency and professionalism in performing as the de facto Opposition Leader while the PR appointed de jure Opposition Leader … well … God knows what he does, apart from 916-ing, while his wife worries about the UMNO leadership transition plan

It seems someone prefers to be the de facto this and that rather than the de jure that and this. He doesn’t even want to be President of PKR, just the de facto leader only.

And there would not have been a Permatang Pauh by-election with Anwar Ibrahim as a candidate if there was no sodomy charge against him. Fortunately for him, wifey was there with her ‘support’ as usual – she surrendered her PP seat for the by-election.

Maybe Anwar just likes the title of de facto too much.

Other than lompat-ing into Permatang Pauh secara terdesak, why has he avoided being a PKR this-or-that. And to take this question one further step, why has he neglected the formation of a shadow cabinet?

kaytee offers a range of speculations:

(a) Waiting to return to UMNO so why bother with a shadow cabinet?

(b) Waiting to have 31 BN MPs join PKR so that a PKR with 61 MPs against DAP’s 28 and PAS 24 will have the lion share of the cabinet positions?

(c) Avoiding the hard call to divvy up what Kian Ming posed in his article about key ministries, and disappoint both DAP and PAS? Once the key portfolio has been allocated they become very difficult to withdraw, at the risk of the PR breaking up.

(d) Avoiding the key appointment of DPM? Should it go to PAS' Pak Haji Nik Aziz (or Pak Haji Hadi Awang) or DAP’s Lim Kit Siang?

But as Dean Johns said: But what about the shadow cabinet that any opposition worth its salt is supposed to form?

… and that Lim Kit Siang is a world-class exponent of the art of opposition.

Man man lai?


  1. Well... Pakatan hasn't even formalized... thanks to Anwar's fantasy...

    The power quarrel between the parties would be a headache...

    and also, How many shadow ministers would be appropriate? the 28 ministries cabinet is just way too oversized...

    plus, I wonder if these shadow ministers... shall they take over the government... will really be appointed as relevant ministers... Meritocracy or not?

    Lastly, I don't think / want to see some of the MPs, i.e. Uncle Kit, Karpal Singh etc to be shackled into debating only their shadow ministries' business... That would be a loss... LOL~

  2. I think speculation C is uppermost in their minds. Appoint one person, say, to a specific post, another party may feel aggrieved, and yet another party may feel it's his party's right by way of ethnic sensitivity.
    Remember this is a marriage of ideologically disparate parties.
    And as you say there lies the seed of discontentment and, very likely, a shattering.
    My 2 sen's worth.

  3. Lim Kit Siang a world-class exponent of the art of opposition ????

    I'm one of those people who try to do my part to sell PR's multi-racial concept (and that includes DAP) to the average Malay.

    His lack of racial and religious sensitivity makes me cringe every few weeks.

    I think only mono-ethnic ignoramuses like Dean Johns and Ktemoc would consider him "World-Class"...wakakakakakakakaka.

  4. Hi KT,

    They ben living together out of wedlock. So how could they come with legitimate paper work.

    Being out of wedlock, what happens when they are parting, there shall not be any legal claims. Thus who benefit the most out of this game, it must be ANWAR IBRAHIM.


  5. hmm... interesting

    By the way, you can see Anwar trying to after Taib Mahmud's rice bowl right now.....

  6. It would be difficult to form a shadow cabinet from an Opposition that has the make of:

    a) Three parties with different ideologies.

    b) One party with conservative elements whom are not as willing to allow Anwar to rise to the top seat.

    Also the need for Malays to occupy the majority of cabinet posts, so as to not suffer UMNO-inspired backlash. But anyways, I have to agree with you when you say that Anwar isn't doing much when all he's doing is spouting political rhetoric.

  7. Anon of 10:46 PM, November 30, 2008, you wouldn't know a world-class exponent of the art of opposition even if he/she was sitting on top of head ;-)

    World-class politicians deal with issues of governing and governance, not grandstanding bullshit - nor do they hurl obscenities at women MPs.

  8. Yawwwwn...isn't Anwar Ibrahim irrelevant ?
    He's nothing...not worth spending so much energy on.

  9. Tak payah lah nak harap apa2 daripada Anwar ni. Memang tak boleh harap pon. Yang boleh diharap hanyalah bercakap. Bila bab bercakap memang bijak. Habis semua orang bodoh, dia saja yang betul tapi hasil tak da nampak pun.