KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 — Former minister Khairy Jamaluddin urged the public not to prejudge the Shadow Cabinet Barisan Nasional unveiled yesterday.
Speaking to radio channel BFM 89.9, Khairy was concerned that Malaysians might write off the alternative Cabinet simply because some of those chosen were formerly ministers when BN had been in power.
“First of all have you have to work with what you have (and) those are the members of parliament that we have.
“Secondly, just because they were the former ministers doesn't mean they don’t have anything to offer. In fact they can be quite effective as check-and-balance to the present ministers, if anything, because they would know quite a lot about the portfolio they cover.
“My message would be to suspend judgement until you see how the Shadow Cabinet and ministers operate,” he said.
The Shadow Cabinet was formed by the last remaining BN parties — Umno, MCA and MIC — and will see two BN MPs monitoring each federal ministry.
Many of the portfolios are tracked by MPs who formerly headed the ministries.
One departure is Khairy, who handles the Finance portfolio in the Shadow Cabinet; he was formerly youth and sports minister.
On his qualification to monitor the portfolio, the Rembau MP said he had spent four years as an investment banker prior to joining politics and had read economics in university.
“You can ask people whether they are qualified for a particular job in politics, but I think unless you really roll up your sleeves and get stuck in on issues and policy, you can't really say you are there.
“The most important thing is onboarding myself very quickly as far as the issues are concerned and getting stuck in on the debates in parliamentary session,” he said.
Categorising Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng as a “very capable” politician, Khairy disagreed with the former’s style of communication, which he described as alarmist.
“He presented an uncomfortable picture of Malaysia. Some of it is warranted, of course; you have to look at the issue of debt, it is fair for the government to raise that issue.
“But when you conflate a lot of things and present the national debt in terms that were beyond the internationally accepted definition of government debt, it creates a perception that we are in worse situation we are actually in.
“That should had not be the case and he has dialled down the rhetoric a bit because he understands that as finance minister, not only do you address problems, but you have to present confidence for investors; that things are not as bad as they really in Malaysia,” he said.
Khairy added that as a former minister, he has a clear idea of the country’s finances and BN’s management of the economy previously.
He said it was understandable for the new government to blame its predecessor for its current problems, but this should not be to the point of spooking the markets.