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PUTRAJAYA, May 1 — Dr Xavier Jayakumar has given himself a rating of seven to eight out of 10 for his performance as the Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister since Pakatan Harapan (PH) became the government a year ago.
However, the Kuala Langat MP was quick to point out that his accomplishments were due to the work chemistry and cooperation of the ministry’s top leadership and officers with the new leadership.
“I can always tell you it is in the high numbers of seven to eight that we have managed... I thank my ministry KSU and officers who have been very forthcoming,” Dr Xavier said when asked how he would rate himself during a special press conference this week to mark PH’s first anniversary in power.
KSU is the Malay abbreviation for the ministerial secretary-general.
“[They] have worked with me in the past one year in order to ensure that the Pakatan Harapan agenda is on the table. They are helping us in order to improve and also come up with the changes that they think we need to do with us.
“In that way, the officials and my whole ministry have been working very well to ensure the changes take place,” Dr Xavier said.
Taking into consideration the challenges faced by the ruling party when taking over the federal administration, the PKR vice-president said PH had been able to overcome the past year by putting a stop to the previous kleptocratic government.
“Our main achievement is that we managed to consolidate, even though there was a huge task in front of us in terms of national debt, corruption, falsifying minutes of Auditor-General’s report, and falsifying accounts.
“Being a loose coalition as it is for the first time coming together to form the federal government, we have worked very well with all differences that we have had between the parties.
“Some are new, some are old, that is what we have achieved for this past one year as we are moving forward as a unit to make these changes a reality,” he said.
Asked what his top three achievements were so far in the ministry, Dr Xavier said he was most satisfied with how the water issues in the country had been handled, including the Selangor water restructuring deal which was resolved in less than a month after he took over.
He said it was also important to strengthen the water industry to manage and maintain the water companies to ensure Malaysians are provided sufficient water supply throughout the year.
“I can tell you most states have agreed with my reasoning on why water tariff must go up to strengthen the industry.
“We must understand that we have never paid attention to the water industries over a long period of time and this is a resource that we must be careful about,” Dr Xavier said.
He said he was also pleased with the setting up of the minerals enactment as the country has various valuable rare resources that are high in demand.
But Dr Xavier said it would take him another term to be able to understand the mechanisms of the 18 agencies under his purview.
He said his ministry needs to pick up speed in decision-making as well as to be more people-oriented and business-friendly.
“The ministry is very big, I have 18 agencies. To go into all the agencies one by one, to know how they really run, it will take me another term in order to really understand the mechanisms of it.
“Upfront I have visited all the agencies and I know how they run, but the intricacies of it, there is a lot of things we need to improve.
“We need to make decisions faster, need to make things faster on the ground. We have to learn to cut red tape and be more people-orientated and business-friendly,” he said.
Dr Xavier said the ministry is also constantly engaging with various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) related to wildlife and forestry and is ready to listen to their input and feedback in order to move forward.