A look at some of Pakatan's baffling picks

AUGUST 26 — Make no mistake, politics is already bewildering to most people. To expect those playing the game to make sense is futile.

We saw examples of this over the general elections. Some we had expected to contest did not, some we had hoped would hang up their boots not only carried on — but ended up winning.

Someone who was sure to win in an urban area was fielded in a rural neck of the woods. Another who had no experience was sent to win the hearts of civil servants.

This was especially evident with then opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) who were saddled with the gosling of a party — Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM). Because despite its chairman and president's experiences in politics for what seemed like forever, the party itself was like an infant just learning to walk.

And given the task to fill up so many seats — 52 up from the incumbent one — PPBM had to somehow make some difficult choices. Some of the gambles paid off, but some did not, as PH swooped into a shock victory.

But as PH survived its first 100 days in administration, it was evident that the other component parties were not immune from making baffling choices.

Khalid Samad as Federal Territories Minister

Shah Alam, Khalid's Selangor constituency, is not that far from Kuala Lumpur at roughly 30 kilometres but it is unlikely to ever be mistaken as part of the metropolitan capital.

It is not just the distance. The mindset, as well as diversity, are also far apart. According to the last census, Malays and ethnic Chinese make up roughly the entire — at almost 50-50 — population in the city. In Shah Alam, Malays are more than three-quarters of the population.

Nothing speaks to Khalid's lack of understanding of urban folks than the recent joint raid on Blue Boy Club in the heart of the city by the police, Kuala Lumpur City Hall, Federal Territories Islamic Department (Jawi), and the National Anti-Drugs Agency.

Member of Parliament for Shah Alam and Federal Territories Minister, Khalid Samad. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Member of Parliament for Shah Alam and Federal Territories Minister, Khalid Samad. — Picture by Hari Anggara

In an official statement on his ministry's Facebook page, Khalid said: "The government is very serious in dealing with this radical belief. Hopefully this initiative can mitigate the LGBT culture from spreading into our society."

Now, to Shah Alam people, the LGBT, or merely those who go clubbing may be considered "radical." But not to KL folks who could not care less about the LGBT and would rather the government keep their non-dancing shoes off the dance floor.

Khalid also seems to be ambivalent about local council elections, if not downright dismissive. Nobody would feel the bane of "taxation without representation" more than those whose daily lives are actually affected by the impunity of City Hall and Putrajaya Corporation.

When asked by Malay Mail why he was appointed to his ministerial post, Khalid said that it could be in recognition of Parti Amanah Negara conceding its only seat in KL — Titiwangsa — to PPBM.

If this was true, with Titiwangsa's Rina Harun not making much of an impact so far, it would seem that the public has been getting the short end of this arrangement. To put it mildly.

Fuziah Salleh as Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, in charge of Islamic affairs

If there was one thing that Fuziah was well known for prior to the polls, it was her steadfast opposition towards the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant and bauxite mining, both in her constituency of Pahang.

Her dedication, for almost a decade, in ensuring that the area and her state are not polluted, and people's lives not endangered as a result of greed, was immensely inspiring.

One would expect that she be given the Energy, Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment portfolio. She would have made a formidable pair with now minister Yeo Bee Yin.

Instead, she was given the particularly thorny Islamic portfolio.

We may never know why. But it could be due to her history in Islamist group Jamaah Islah Malaysia (JIM) formed in the early 90s, an offshoot of the 70s Islamic Representative Council group that paved the way for Malay students overseas to get involved in Islamist evangelism in secretive cells — much like the origin of the controversial Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) now — before JIM was neutered with the formation of Ikram in the early noughties.

Fuziah was the chief of JIM's women's wing in the late 90s, before pursuing a career in counselling.

And now, she is forced to make illiterate statements about transgenders.

Hannah Yeoh as Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister

As an exception, Yeoh's inclusion in the ministry not due to her incompetence, but instead because she has done most things right up until this moment.

She has spoken up strongly against child marriages, saying that PH has no excuse not to raise the floor age to 18 since it was in its elections manifesto.

She acted fast following the death of five-month-old Adam Rayqal Mohd Sufi who was found stuffed inside the freezer compartment of a fridge at his caretaker’s home in July, announcing daycare centres in all government agencies.

She quickly spoke up in support of fellow MP Nurul Izzah Anwar after the latter was sexually harassed by a caller during a radio talk show. She actually went to visit the victim of the transgender hate crime in Seremban, releasing a harsh rebuke in support of the minority with DAP aide Syahredzan Johan.

What is baffling is that Yeoh was made just a deputy minister to a portfolio that would have benefited from her at the helm.

Muhammed Abdul Khalid as PM's economic adviser

Muhammed is a brilliant economist. His work speaks for itself.

His 2014 book The Colour of Inequality sparked a conversation in the public on the class divide and his witty remarks on TV prior to the polls shot both him and the book to renewed popularity.

This week, he was appointed economic adviser to PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad himself.

"I need to have a constant analysis of what is happening in our country economically," Dr Mahathir said explaining his appointment, while also insisting that the Council of Eminent Persons is still needed despite it declaring its mandate completed in the first 100 days.

And yet, the council led by Daim Zainuddin already has Jomo Kwame Sundaram, himself a decorated economist. Not to mention former central bank governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz.

The fact that Muhammed is related to Daim — through marriage — will likely raise some questions about the appointment.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.