By John Isaac
NOW is the time for the government to take new steps to avoid waste, said Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi, saying that after Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob was appointed as deputy prime minister, there was no need to retain the four senior ministers introduced by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin last year.
He also called for PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing of the Progressive Democratic Party to be stripped of their posts as special envoys.
“This is wasteful and there is no teamwork,” he said in a post on social media today which was reported by Malaysiakini.
Muhyiddin has just appointed Ismail as the deputy prime minister, after having declined to appoint anyone to the post earlier. However, he was subsequently faced with the withdrawal of support by Umno leaving his government’s future in immense doubt.
Aside from Ismail, other senior ministers are Bersatu vice-president Datuk Dr Radzi Jidin; former PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Mohd Azmin Ali who is also with Bersatu now; and PBB vice-president Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof.
A number of other parliamentarians were appointed to high positions with ministerial status, including Hadi who was appointed special envoy to the Middle East, while Tiong was appointed as special envoy to China.
Critics see the appointments as part of Muhyiddin’s scheme to maintain the support of political parties and parliamentarians to continue as prime minister.
Puad said the current size of the Malaysian cabinet was too big with 31 ministers, plus 38 deputy ministers.
“After all, what is their role and jurisdiction except to get the privilege of police escorts?” he said.
The former Batu Pahat MP then referred to Brigadier General Dr Mohd Arshil Moideen, the management chief of the Malaysian Armed Forces Health Service Division, who said that the lack of integrated action and coordinated instructions contributed to why the country is unable to beat back the current Covid-19 wave.
“What I see is a lack of top-down unified action and coordination.
“I’m commenting from a professional perspective where it can be observed that what was decided at the federal level is implemented differently at the state level.
“Likewise, at the state level, the implementation is different in each district. This is what we can see when there is no unified action or coordination,” he had said.
Puad said it was a bold statement by Mohd Arshil, who is also a senior military officer.
He added that in his opinion, it looked like only four ministers were working, but he did not say who.
“There is also a minister whose job is to open the back door. It is a senior minister,” he added cynically.