Forward    Feedback    

Has Cabinet credibility, authority and legitimacy reached its lowest depths in nation’s 48-year history?



Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

Parliament, Friday): Yesterday, I asked why the idea and decision on the  Federal Territory Religious Depar;tment (Jawi) “snoop squad” in Putrajaya was not nipped in the bud at the ministry level without having to reach the Cabinet.

I said that while Malaysians applauded  the Cabinet decision to direct Jawi  to disband the latest attempt at a morality police, as its “snoop squad”  would be sending out the wrong message nationally and internationally of religious extremism and zealotry in the country, the Cabinet  should be dealing with policy and  macro  issues of integrity, transparency, efficiency,  excellence, justice and  good governance and not micro matters which should be disposed off at the departmental  stage by the respective Ministers concerned.

Today’s  front-page Star headline story “Jawi defiant – FT Religious Dept wants to go ahead with its snoop squad”   probably gives the answer –  that the writ of many Ministers do not run very far, not even in their own Ministries, when an unanimous Cabinet decision can be openly defied with impunity by a government department through its public relations officer.

Jawi public relations officer Idris Hussein said that Jawi wants to go ahead with its snoop squad against the Cabinet decision as it was not given the opportunity to explain to the Government the purpose of the unit’s formation.

Such open defiance of the authority of the Cabinet and Prime Minister, something unheard-of and unimaginable in the past 48 years of independent nationhood, is a vindication of the warning by the  New Straits Times editorial yesterday entitled “Vigil on vigilantes” on the “constant need to watch out for moral vigilantes and to stand up against the Taliban wannabes in our midst”.

The last thing Malaysians want is to see the import of religious and morality police like the mutawaeen of Saudi Arabia or basij of Iran as “The Authority for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vices”, with powers to punish offenders involving beatings and public humiliations and encouraging people to inform on others suspected of acting “unvirtuously”.

But there is another even more serious implication of such open defiance of the authority of the Prime Minister and an  unanimous Cabinet decision by a government department – the low regard, esteem and respect in which  Ministers are held by their own government departments and officers.

Have we plumbed to the lowest depth of Ministerial  credibility, authority and legitimacy in the 48-year history of Malaysian nation-building?

This unprecedented   crisis of Cabinet credibility, authority and legitimacy can only be because of two factors:

  • the failure of the Cabinet to demonstrate that it is serious in delivering the reform pledge and programme of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to head a clean, incorruptible, open, transparent, efficient, just and democratic administration prepared to hear the truth from the people, with hardly anything after 27 months; and

  • the inordinate delay to  downsize and revamp the  Cabinet to produce towering Ministers  who can individually inspire  citizens regardless of race or religion to be towering Malaysians?

The first step to restore the credibility, authority and legitimacy of the public service is the restore the credibility, authority and legitimacy of the Cabinet which is respected not only by the Malaysian public but also by  the government departments and officers themselves.         


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

Your e-mail:

Your name: 

Your friend's e-mail: 

Your friend's name: