KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 — The appointment of eight PAS lawmakers as ministers and deputy ministers should in itself appease the Islamist party’s immediate political desires, said several political analysts.
They also felt PAS should refrain from demanding too much more from the government as those appointed did not have proven track records governing at a federal level.
The three PAS Cabinet members are Minister of the Environment Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan and Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali.
Tuan Ibrahim is PAS deputy president, Takiyuddin its secretary-general and Mohd Khairuddin a member of PAS’ Central Working Committee.
“PAS' greatest challenge right now would be to convince the public that they are able to carry out their roles effectively, amid perceptions that those selected by Muhyiddin Yassin would not be able to perform as ministers and deputies,” said Shazwan Mustafa Kamal, senior associate at Vriens & Partners, a corporate advisory firm specialising in government affairs and public policy matters.
Shazwan pointed out that an appointment in line with the lawmaker’s professional background was that of Takiyuddin’s, a qualified lawyer who was given a law-related portfolio.
“As for Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali, he will have his work cut out for him as a leading advocate for Malaysia's ongoing palm oil campaign and its current battle with the EU,” he added.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia's Prof Kartini Aboo Talib @ Khalid agreed that the appointed PAS ministers and deputies now have to prove their capability, adding that they are also partly responsible for ensuring Muhyiddin’s vision of a “functional Cabinet” comes to fruition.
“At this point in time, they should settle with the (Cabinet) list and can always demand more after they have proven to be supportive and committed to Tan Sri Muhyiddin.
“They have KPIs and they need to show their capability at the ministry level; one has to remember that these new faces are inexperienced,” she said.
“It is part of it, that is why we can see a lot of Senators and old faces are in the cabinet,” she added when asked if PAS’ inexperience was a reason behind their smaller Cabinet representation.
Amir Fareed Rahim from the KRA Group of political consultants said PAS should look at this as a golden opportunity to re-acclimatise themselves with the inner workings of the federal government.
“Moreover, PAS has not been in the federal government in more than 40 years and they can use this time and opportunity to understand better the complexities of a federal government,” he said.
For some, however, the allocation of ministers given to PAS was a clear sign of their standing within the Perikatan Nasional coalition.
“PAS needs to realise that they are a junior partner in the coalition because their numbers are low,” said Universiti Utara Malaysia’s Prof Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani.
“I believe that because they are lacking in experience, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin would not allow them to hold any position as a Senior Minister. It is a learning curve for them in the federal government,” he said.
Kartini, on the other hand, said she saw PAS as co-partners and as equal stakeholders within the coalition despite their numbers in Cabinet.
“I do not think it (their representation in Cabinet) matters. PAS is committed to Perikatan and they have to make this unity government work.
“(They are) not a junior partner, but a co-partner that needs to be exposed to ways to govern a country,” she said.
For these analysts, fewer ministers and deputies named from PAS did not necessarily mean they have an inferior standing within the coalition, saying compensations in other forms would have been laid out and agreed upon by party heads.
Shazwan, a former newsman, pointed out the absence of party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang from the Cabinet line-up and the lack of PAS representatives named among Muhyiddin’s Senior Ministers suggested that agreements elsewhere would have been struck.
“Backdoor discussions would have been made and certain concessions made to have resulted in PAS being agreeable to it.
“This remains to be seen, but will likely be made known in the near future,” he said.
Amir Fareed was also quick to point out the absence of PAS among those named as Senior Ministers, given their bloc of 18 MPs which is similar to that of Gabungan Parti Sarawak’s (GPS).
He said PAS had this time round proven themselves as the kingmakers with the formation of the Perikatan government, adding he found it interesting they were not awarded a senior portfolio as a result.
“There is likely to be other arrangements to compensate for this lack of Cabinet positions,” he said.