When the ministries’ composition were restructured, with the ministry of economic affairs created to take a chunk of responsibilities from the others, we had thought that Dr Mahathir had gotten a super-brilliant guy to head it and bring exciting changes to the nation’s economic management.
Alas, nine months have passed, but nothing brilliant, innovative or exciting have been mooted by the minister, Azmin Ali. The expected impact of Dr Mahathir’s new ministry of economic affairs has come to zilch.
As a matter of fact, the records show that no paper from the ministry was ever tabled to the cabinet. And maybe, not even the customary post-cabinet meetings for the minister to translate cabinet decisions to the various departments under his charge, were held!
And boy, do we need guidance so bad in these troubled economic times. Maybe the daily struggle by the expanding low-income class to make ends meet, is far removed from the minister!
Or maybe, because the efforts at national economic growth, being the sum total of the efforts of all ministries, he thinks his job is just to monitor them, but not to provide robust leadership.
It does seem from the media releases that politicking is his obsession. After almost losing the No.2 position in the party to a fresher chap, he now busies himself by charting the course to be the next PM.
As if Dr Mahathir is blind to this do-nothing, play-safe stance of the minister that has resulted in the ministry’s current lethargy! Crowning achievements that benefit the rakyat, have never characterised Azmin’s political career. Only sneaky opportunism, by this proclaimed God’s gift to Malaysians.
Maybe in his limited thinking, he thinks everything is fine. So, let’s remind him gently, of the things under his care that he may have neglected as a national agenda to help the rakyat:
1. It was exciting when he promised early on, in response to the FELDA problems that were adversely impacting the people that had helped tip the balance for PH to win PRU14, that his ministry would be tabling a White Paper to Parliament in due course.
Until today, after so many parliamentary sessions, the Malays would say “habuk pun tarak”, meaning no White Paper was tabled nor any reference made to it, as if he fears that it would remind us of his promise.
What happened, Azmin?
2. A directionless economy that maybe is heading south. No, we do not expect him to decide on the direction we should take. That would be too much to ask from a mathematics graduate.
But please do provide the necessary impetus to deal with the extraordinary economic challenges facing the nation at present. If blaming your predecessor and leaving it to market forces is your way, can I offer my thirteen year-old son to help you?
It’s like a medical doctor who bitches about his patient’s previous diet, yet he does not prescribe any medications or therapies, and hopes that fate will be kind to him. Meanwhile, here’s the bill!
3. Being Dr Mahathir’s right-hand man on the board of Khazanah, please explain to us, since all that we have heard is that we need to raise some cash by liquidating some of Kazanah’s investments.
So we sold the health-care company that was doing quite well, to Mitsui of Japan. We still don’t know why the counter was chosen, how it was sold, and if the money has gone to the Treasury or to Khazanah to retire loans etc. Is that not too much to inform us?
4. And there’s the huge economic holes we face, like the ECRL and the penalised HSR to Singapore, the multi-billion ringgit overpaid gas pipelines, and other infrastructure works we can ill afford, the still-unrecovered stock market, the investors’ lack of confidence for FDIs when the local tycoons are is investing abroad for fear of competition from the GLCs, the languishing ringgit, the very low oil palm prices coupled with the high cost of living, are only just a mouthful of matters that we want to see Azmin address. They were never mentioned by Azmin in earnest, as if they do not affect him.
Yet, he is THE minister of economic affairs. Dr Mahathir, please do something about this man. If this is the pathetic performance that he is capable of, God forbids if he ever becomes a PM!