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Abdullah should take a leaf from new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and not hog the two ministries of Internal Security and Finance but appoint Ministers who can provide full-time hands-on leadership to these two important portfolios

Media Statement          
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Friday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should take a leaf from the new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and not hog the ministries of Internal Security and Finance but appoint Ministers who can provide full-time hands-on leadership to these two important portfolios. 

Abdullah should give serious consideration to this proposal as in his 83 overseas trips in his 44 months as Prime Minister, five of them were to the United Kingdom.  

On replacing Tony Blair as Prime Minister, Brown relinquished his post as Chancellor of the Exchequer to Alistair Darling who was moved from the Trade and Industry Ministry while appointing the first female Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith. 

In contrast, Abdullah is hanging on as Minister for both portfolios although the past 44 months have proved beyond a shadow of doubt that he has neither the time nor temperament to be a full-time hands-on Minster for either Ministry. 

What are the reasons for the  Prime Minister to head another Ministry?  

It must be to stamp his personal authority on the Ministry whether policies, programmes or personnel. As Abdullah is clearly incapable of doing this, whether in Internal Security or Finance, for the simple reason that he is unable to spare the time and attention, is it then the alternative explanation that he could not trust anyone else to head the two Ministries which he regards as either too influential or sensitive? 

Whatever the reason, Abdullah should realize that after more than three years it is clear that his trebling up as Prime Minister, Internal Security Minister and Finance Minister is not working out, especially with the country facing the worst crisis of security with rampant crime and lawlessess making Malaysians feeling most unsafe in the streets, public places and the privacy of their homes. 

Who is now exercising political authority and responsibility over the police, not in terms of theory but in actual operational terms?  The answer is nobody! 

Abdullah had been Home Minister since January 1999 after the former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad relinquished the portfolio with direct responsibility over the police following national and international outcry and outrage over the Anwar Ibrahim “black eye” scandal. 

Abdullah was stamping his personal authority as Home Minister after he became Prime Minister in 2003 when he announced the establishment of the Royal Police Commission to create a world-class police service. 

He would have left a great legacy to the country and future generations by establishing the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), the most important of the 125 recommendations of the Royal Police Commission and which Abdullah had publicly committed himself to implementing. 

However, Abdullah backed down in the face of police opposition and revolt, to the extent that the subject of IPCMC is being avoided altogether in Parliament. 

Worse still, Ministerial, Cabinet and Parliamentary responsibility over the Police in the past two years suffered such grave and unprecedented damage to the extent that political authority over the police never seemed to have been so broken down now as compared to any other period in  the nation’s history – which is illustrated by the open warfare between the police and the Internal Security Deputy Minister, Datuk Johari Baharum, the de facto “Police Minister”. 

It is time that the Prime Minister put his Cabinet “house” in order – starting by relinquishing his two positions as Internal Security and Finance Minister.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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