Our mysteriously disappearing Cabinet

MARCH 3 — If I could summarise one year under Perikatan Nasional in two words, they would be: quiet dreadful.

As for two words that would describe the regular thoughts of the average news-following Malaysian they would probably be “Now what?”

The pandemic was an eye opener for many to just how precarious their livelihoods, finances and health were. 

Yet I wonder at the collective ignorance our Cabinet has about how badly they’re managing public perception.

In a time where people are clinging to less-than-ideal jobs just to survive, it’s poor optics for a deputy minister to take two months off to visit family in New Zealand.

That seems rather unfair when I have friends who struggle to get permission to visit their aged parents or help family members in other states.

Instead of apologising for politicians breaching SOPs, the government has chosen to change the rules to give special dispensation for them to go to Johor and scrub floors or take neighbourhood walkabouts.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin attends a Perikatan Nasional event at Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur September 1, 2020. ― Bernama pic
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin attends a Perikatan Nasional event at Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur September 1, 2020. ― Bernama pic

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We apparently have the largest Cabinet in Malaysian history but the biggest mystery is how many of them are working, or have work to do, considering some can take personal trips overseas for long periods.

You know how celebrities keep their fans updated with their schedules? I think it might be time for government websites to be functional in that respect.

Have calendars that are updated so that people may know what engagements or endeavours are being handled.

I know transparency is a new concept for Malaysian governance but it’s the 21st century so why not? If East Asian celebrities can keep fans updated on which brand sponsor event they’re attending weeks or months in advance, our Cabinet can keep the public assured they’re working and not sightseeing.

I’m not thrilled with how blasé the tourism ministry is about safety, being more pressed about encouraging travel and corridors, and pandemic be damned.

Perhaps instead the ministry should also function as a travel agency for Cabinet members who wish to take trips. Charge commission and have it allocated to a charitable fund, not forgetting to remind Cabinet members that they are not counted as charities.

Barely-functioning Cabinet aside (why is Khairy Jamaluddin of all people doing the Health Minister’s job?) I would also like the LHDN to stop tinkering with its website.

Trying to pay my taxes on Monday was a headache, one only worsened by the LHDN’s use of at least 5-6 different fonts just on the front page. 

Please do not use our taxes to do terrible, unnecessary things to government websites or at the very least, please hire an actual web designer for the sake of our collective eyeballs.

In other great mysteries, I suspect someone will need to investigate the mysterious non-appearance of those laptops our finance minister keeps mentioning. Or you know what? 

Maybe he can talk to Syed Saddiq about laptop procurement because the latter (unlike the Cabinet) seems to know what he’s doing as far as that’s concerned.

Humility is an alien trait for most of our politicians but maybe they should add it to their list of New Year resolutions, that should include not taking two-month long overseas trips. I know it’s wishful thinking but I prefer to remain hopeful because the alternative is getting really, really drunk.

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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