PUTRAJAYA, Feb 7 ― Datuk Salahuddin Ayub has admitted that being the minister in-charge of feeding the nation has been tough since day one and it’s made tougher still by his officers and their pride.
The Agriculture and Agro-based Industries minister told Malay Mail in a recent interview that one of the major challenges he wants to overcome is convincing senior government officials to be on board with his strategies for the ministry.
“It's quite tough from day one because frankly speaking these PTD (Administration and Diplomatic Officers) have their pride and I was told by my friends and previous ministers that it's easy to have bad blood with them, too easy,” he said at this office here.
He said that bureaucratic issues and dealing with “status quo-minded” senior government officers added to his problems.
Salahuddin also said on occasion there would be “miscommunications or communications breakdown” between his office and the ministry’s Secretary General.
The situation could be further aggravated by misinformation or rumours that Salahuddin said, is dangerous if not handled properly.
However, leaning on his experience in politics and emulating his favourite political figure, former British prime minister Winston Churchill, the veteran politician said he prefers to engage, discuss calmly and rely on objectivity to get through the day.
“Because politics is very dynamic and hearsay is very dangerous. It could jeopardise our relationship in the future or in the long run.
“So I will try my best to handle this through my vast experience in politics. I strongly believe in the power of engagement.
“As a minister, I must be very objective, must be very calm, and patient enough to handle any issue,” he said.
Salahuddin explained that he often checked his ego at the door in dealing with his officers and often find himself “biting the bullet on a daily basis”.
“Although I am a seasoned politician, I am new in the government. As a boss, for example, if I try to tell the people that I am good enough, I am the best, I am very senior in politics and you must always be bound to me, you must listen to me, then I am finished.
“What I can do is that I try to be a good listener. You must be brave to face these kinds of challenges,” he said.
Salahuddin said that he planned to reveal the way forward for the ministry for the next two years by next month, a “vision” that he hoped his officers would embrace.
Although he manages three major areas namely agriculture, fisheries and veterinary services along with 11 other agencies under his purview, Salahuddin said he is getting more “confident and comfortable” as time passes by.
After seven months forming the federal government, Salahuddin said the Pakatan Harapan administration is still relatively new but understand the need of the masses for them to perform.