Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah has given the new cabinet line-up six months to prove themselves to see whether they are ‘performance-oriented’ or not.
Denying that he had described the cabinet as ‘neat’ in a Bernama report yesterday, the Gua Musang MP clarified that “he never hailed the new cabinet as neat and capable”.
“After all, it has yet to be seen. They said it is going to be performance-oriented, that’s good. But let’s see after six months whether the ministers have performed. It's not fair to judge them after a day or two,” he told a media conference at his residence this afternoon.
Besides, Tengku Razaleigh added that the people could only “evaluate after they have been given the chance to perform”.
“(It's) not fair for me to comment at this stage, let’s just wait until they have gone to their offices,” he said, adding that some of the cabinet members “have been rejected in the general election but have been brought back”.
“Some of my friends said that they are recycled members of the cabinet. I don’t know about that, but they are not new to the scene,” he said.
The Kelantan prince has been a critic of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak. Today, his message to Najib is that “reforms” must be undertaken by the government immediately in order to regain the people's confidence.
Defeats in by-elections a ‘disgrace’
With the continuous defeats in four by-elections since the March 8 general election last year, Tengku Razaleigh said the BN must win the next one, if any, at all costs.
"Failing to do so would further erode the people’s support from Umno and BN. This could spell disaster for the federal government three or four years down the road."
Describing himself as a “very strong Umno chap”, Razaleigh expressed sadness that Umno has not won a single seat in a by-election held so far after the last general election.
“It is a disgrace actually. Unlike before, we named a candidate, and as sure as a daylight they would win.
"But now we have to pray, we have to work hard, go back and forth, and throw a lot of money and still we do not win. So something is wrong,” he said.
Razaleigh asserted that Umno cannot afford to lose more support from the people because “we have lost so much already” and this will affect badly on Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s new administration.
“We have lost five states in the last general election and these states are not small states... this is not just a disgrace, but malu lah (shameful),” he said.
He suggested that in order to continue in power, Umno and BN must use all its resources and marshal all its members to go all out to get support from the people.
“Otherwise, in three to four years time, you will be gone. I don’t think they want to be kicked out of office (just yet),” he said.
The Umno veteran said it was clear from the recent by-elections that many Malays had voted PAS and DAP and not Umno, adding that something must have gone very wrong in BN.
“If they are still blind to this, they should hang up their political hats, retire and go away. Am I too harsh? But I'm desperate also, because I'm in a party that’s losing support,” he said.
Mukhriz in, KJ out: It confuses me
Commenting on the appointment of Mukhriz Mahathir as a deputy minister while Khairy Jamaluddin was overlooked, Razaleigh said "this may make some people unhappy”.
“But I'm sure Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) is happy. Apart from Mukhriz himself, it may not make others happy,” he said.
Razaleigh said although it was the prime minister's prerogative to appoint his cabinet members, Najib should “still hang on to certain principles and cannot just abandon it”.
Explaining this, Razaleigh recalled that former vice-president Mohd Ali Rustam was barred from contesting for the Umno's deputy presidency for involvement in money politics but was allowed to keep his post as Malacca chief minister.
“But Khairy was also found guilty and let off with a warning, but then he was allowed to contest.
“Isa Samad (former vice-president and Negeri Sembilan menteri besar), was found guilty of money politics but he was suspended for six years and asked to vacate his ministerial appointment,” he recalled.
“I myself am confused, but I stand corrected. How do you follow this, what principles you uphold when you do this?” he said.
Razaleigh further said that (Wanita Umno chief) Shahrizat Abdul Jalil had lost in the last general election but because of her post in the party, she was appointed a minister in the new cabinet.
“But the Youth chief was not appointed and somebody below him who lost (Mukhriz) was appointed.
"How do we go with this? On one hand, it is the prerogative of the PM, On the other, if I don’t like someone, I will not appoint him - this is a bit hard,” he said.
The Umno veteran also brushed aside rumours that he had plans to join PKR or other opposition party.
“I do not think that I am going to leave Umno for now. But one can never tell about the future,” Razaleigh said.
I hope Malaysiakini will not take umbrage at me for having reproduced this scintillating piece written by Rahmah Ghazali. It augments my earlier post which was updated in light of Tengku Razaleigh's annoyance at having been misquoted by the MSM (mainstream media). This Malaysiakini report balances the purported misreporting by the MSM.