Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Federal Cabinet: The best and the brightest

I had to borrow the title of David Halberstam's seminal book (1972) on the Vietnam War for this post. While Halberstam's title was intended to contrast negatively the excellent academic and corporate credentials of the U.S. Cabinet members who somehow lost their objectivity and led the U.S. in the miasma and morass of the Vietnam War, this post hopes to address a reverse scenario in the context of the new Federal Cabinet that BN will be forming.

Whether or, not, the MCA maintains its stand to reject Cabinet positions under the new Najib Administration, I hope that Najib will look beyond the BN component party leaders to form the new Cabinet. 

I hope Najib will use all resources available to him to seek and, persuade, capable people to assume Cabinet positions.

People like Koh Tsu Koon and Rais Yatim were ineffective in the previous Cabinet as were a few others.

Whatever brickbats that may have been thrown at him, the elevation of Idris Jala to a Cabinet position was quite an inspired decision. For better or, for worse, Idris Jala put in the type of effort that many Cabinet members didn't.

So, Najib should look beyond the pale of the BN component parties in an effort to seek out capable Malaysians to serve the country and narrow the rural-urban divide that seems to have formed as shown in the 2013 General Elections.

I say, make full use of the Senatorships, to get in the talent.

Don't just look at the paltry offerings in the larder.

The task at hand, if anything, is to continue to focus on the Economic Transformation Programme.

The capital market has responded positively to the certainty that a continued BN Administration offers. This is a very good re-start.

The concern remains about the debt levels of the Malaysian government. The fiscal deficit has to be pared down. This is a must.

The handouts must be reduced. There must be a better managed needs-based welfare programme that alleviates poverty and social challenges at a more target-specific level. No more carpet-bombing of money handouts, please.

While Malaysia's social safety nets are already quite good, it can be better.

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