Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Why Shouldn’t Former Ministers Get Jobs in the Private Sector? Let’s Ask Anwar

One of the biggest challenges for Governments everywhere is to stay connected with evolving society and industry. Our very own Federal Government needs expertise from the corporate sector and likewise, companies, organisations and NGOs can benefit from those who have in the past had their hands on the levers of government.

This is precisely why Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak included figures like Maybank CEO Wahid Omar in his new cabinet as a minister without portfolio along with Transparency International Malaysia chief Paul Low. They have the power to energise Government with their vast experience.

The wisdom of this strategy would be self-evident to most, except Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who has Tuesday launched a withering attack not on these eminent figures, but on those who have been forced to make way for the new ideas and outside experience Najib knew was so necessary at GE13.

Anwar has cobbled together a list of outgoing Government figures he believes don't deserve a job after their time in politics and therefore have nothing to contribute. For example he has targeted de-selected MCA MP Ng Yen Yen, who has been made chairperson of the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board. This, says Anwar, is pure cronyism, pure and simple.

Except it isn't. Yen Yen was former tourism minister who has much to contribute to the board, given her key brief while in Government boosting tourism numbers.

But that hasn't stopped Anwar.

"How much of the taxpayers' money is being spent on rewarding them? How much of a burden has been put on the rakyat, and how many people are Umno rewarding?" he asked at a press conference.

Also in his sights are former information, communications and culture minister Rais Yatim, who is now president of the International Islamic University Malaysia (UIA). This is a man who received his PhD from the prestigious King's College London in 1994. Do you think he might be qualified for such a university job? Anwar doesn't think so.

And what of Former Johor Menteri Besar Abdul Ghani Othman, who contested and lost the Gelang Patah parliamentary seat to DAP's Lim Kit Siang. After 20 years in politics a large plantation company might think him suitable to lead them – which is exactly what Sime Darby has done.

Given the allegations that have been levelled at Anwar in the past you might be surprised that he even dares to use the word "crony". But he has in this overhyped press conference that reminded us of Anwar at his emotive worst.

At GE13, 33 per cent of the Barisan Nasional candidates for parliamentary seats were new faces as were 49 per cent of its candidates for the state assembly seats. This means there were quite a few former MPs and assemblymen re-entering the workforce after the election. Most of them have experience that is valuable for Malaysia and – if we are to have a healthy exchange of ideas within society between the community, government and business – we need this two-way flow.

Everyone can see this, except Anwar.

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