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Friday, December 31, 2010

PM’s sticky fingerprints all over Khusrin's appointment

Once again the ugly head of Chief Secretary to the government Mohd Sidek Hassan rears up. Whenever there is a major controversy involving a civil servant, Mohd Sidek is not far away.

The last fracas when Mohd Sidek surfaced was when Lim Guan Eng, the Chief Minister of Penang admonished a civil servant, Nik Ali Mat Yunus, the state development officer who took umbrage when Lim criticised him for not tackling wastage of public funds and corruption.

And what did Mohd Sidek do? He took Nik Ali’s side and defended the guy who is spending taxpayers’ money like there was no tomorrow.

Months earlier, both Prime minister Najib Abdul Razak and Sidek had condemned 'Little Napoleons' in the civil service.

Former, Prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had once announced, “There is no need to show how powerful you are by delaying things. There are people who held back files and there are people who held back decisions. We don't want to have 'Little Napoleons' in the civil service showing power by delaying things, for example, just to teach that person a lesson.”

But when it suits them, these ‘Little Napoleons’ can be made to sing another tune.

True to form, at that time, DPM Muhyiddin Yassin had come to the defence of Nik Ali, and said, “Nik Ali is an exemplary officer and there is no case of insubordination here.”

Why do ministers in Najib’s Cabinet continue to make laughing stocks of themselves?

Most of us were behind Lim and believed he did the right thing. All too often, we are subject to humiliation at the hands of errant and arrogant civil servants, much like Nik Ali and Mohd Sidek.

This time, however, Mohd Sidek’s involvement is in the appointment of Selangor Islamic Religious Department director Mohd Khusrin Munawi as the new Selangor state secretary by the Federal Government.

Mohd Khusrin, has been viewed by the Pakatan administration as uncooperative and unsuitable for the post because his past actions have undermined state decisions.

Then, in an unprecedented move, the office of the Sultan of Selangor, in the form of its private secretary, Mohamad Munir Bani took on the meaning of ‘constitutional monarchy’ to a new dimension.

Munir acting outside his remit, has said that Khusrin’s appointment was the sole right of the Chief Secretary to the government Mohd Sidek Hassan. He also stated that there was no need to consult or inform the Menteri Besar.

Perhaps this is one way Munir believes royalty can be closer to the peasants. He is rightfully concerned about the usual public perception of royalty being out of touch with the common masses.

So in Munir’s best judgement, he has decided that this royal prerogative is one way the royals can get involved in the peasant classes as a means of engaging with them.

According to the one-time political secretary to Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim, “This is sabotage. Najib has only two objectives - winning the next general election and taking back Selangor because that is where the money is. In other words, I'd call him bacul (coward).”

Thus the scene is set for another repeat performance of that staged drama; Perak – the Sham Democracy.

Mohd Sidek heads a bloated civil service - we can be forgiven for thinking it exists merely to serve Najib and Umno/BN cohorts.

However, one cannot escape noticing Mohd Sidek. He is on the sidelines, every ready to dispense advice, just as in the Lim Guan Eng case.

For decades, elected leaders promised us that they would remove incompetent and insolent civil servants. These bureaucrats, whose wages we pay, make our lives miserable. Did these leaders keep their promises? No. That is why leaders deserve to be treated with scepticism and scorn for failing to deliver.

But sometimes, these civil servants have their uses. Mohd Sidek is retained because he is handy. He can always be relied on to be the hatchet man.

But Mohd Sidek is only a puppet. His strings are being pulled by one higher up. This debacle has Najib’s fingerprints all over it.

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