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Friday, September 30, 2011

New ‘senior minister’ post a Taib ‘trick’

Opposition DAP has described Taib Mahmud's cabinet reshuffle as a 'shock sendiri' lineup.

KUCHING: While Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders welcome the appointment of three “senior ministers” in the state cabinet of Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, Sarawak DAP not only ridiculed it, but also described it as “shock sendiri” (self-satisfaction).

“It is a ‘shock sendiri’ and so ridiculous and meaningless,” said DAP secretary Chong Chieng Jen, when asked to comment on Taib’s cabinet reshuffle.

The reshuffle was announced after the April 16 state election which saw the defeat of one deputy chief minister and a number of assistant ministers.

All in all, the BN lost 16 seats – 13 of them are from SUPP.

Taib named seven legislators as new assistant ministers.

These include Len Talif Salleh, Julaihi Narawi, Abdul Karim Hamzah, and Robert Lawson Chuat (all from PBB), Rosey Yunus (SPDP), Dr. Jerip Susil (SUPP) and Liwan Lagang (PRS).

Taib did not name anyone to replace George Chan as deputy chief minister, but promoted Wong Soon Koh (SUPP deputy secretary general), James Masing (PRS president) and William Mawan Ikom (SPDP president) to “senior ministers” holding more or less the same portfolios.

It’s a ‘trick’

Asked to comment on the senior ministers’ appointment, Chong, who is Kota Sentosa assemblyman, said: “It is meaningless and ridiculous. What is most important is the scope of work rather than what you are being called.

“Does it mean you have more responsibility than the ordinary minister? Does it mean that now you are a senior minister and before you were a kindergarten minister?”

“I will not be surprised if you have super ministers or even ultra ministers when the next reshuffle comes.”

He described the “new” post as a “trick” to keep his ministers happy.

“The whole thing reflects the BN mentality. It is a trick used by the chief minister to make his ministers happy.

“After all, the work is the same. You are still the head of the ministry.”

Not so ‘sad’ issue

On the non-appointment of a deputy chief minster, Chong did not agree that it was a sad day for the Chinese community when the community does not have a deputy chief minister.

He said even when there was a Chinese deputy chief minister, the concerns of the community have never been addressed or solved.

He cited the annual allocations to the independent Chinese schools that have never been solved as one example.

Other examples include the non-recognition of independent Chinese schools examination results, the unsolved land issues, and unfair treatment of Chinese businessmen in terms of government contracts, in education, and so on.

“With or without a Chinese deputy chief minister, it is a non-concerned issue. The Chinese deputy chief minister in the BN can only play a decorative role and not a decision-making one.

“He has no power. And the only good thing is that we have one less person to cut off the ribbons,” said Chong, commenting on a statement by Wong that he is sad that SUPP is not given a deputy chief minister’s post.

Reality lesson

Wong, who is now Local Government and Community Development Minister, described as “sad” SUPP’s loss of the deputy chief minister’s post which was left vacant following Chan’s defeat in the April 16 election.

Said Wong: “Yes, I feel sad, and not for myself but for the party and the community as a whole.

“But then again, I suppose we should know where we stand because based on our representation, we got only six in BN, particularly the ethnic Chinese elected representatives of whom there are only two.”

His supporters who have been lobbying for Wong to be appointed as deputy chief minister see that his chances of being elected as the party president in the party election in November may be jeopardised.

His is likely to square off with David Teng, the party’s treasurer for the number one post in the party.

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