Technocrats empowered!

The new Pakatan Harapan govt seems rather adamant to make a difference


WHEN Pakatan Harapan came into power after the 14th General Election, elected Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad promised a “small Cabinet” that would be made up of ministries that could make an impact in the country’s administration.

Since the new government took quite a while to fill up all the important positions, speculations upon speculations were made right until the entire Cabinet was revealed last week, on the 54th day after Pakatan Harapan’s victory.

While the previous government under the Barisan Nasional was more known to appoint leaders who were mainly senior politicians who had either served the party or the government “long enough”, and not really based on their expertise, the new administration seems rather adamant to make a difference.

Before the election, the then government had a team of 67 MPs as ministers and deputy ministers, with 35 ministers heading 22 ministries.

With the power back in the hands of Dr Mahathir, who recently turned 93, he had managed to truncate the long list of ministers to only 49 members. Of the total, only 26 are ministers.

The first batch of 13 MPs were sworn in on May 21, while the remaining 13 on July 2. At present, several deputy minister positions are still vacant.

Dr Mahathir might have taken longer than usual to announce the candidates, but when he did, the public seemed to be in agreement with most of the selection.

Some commented that Dr Mahathir seemed to have emulated Singapore’s administration style by empowering more technocrats (some are pretty young and fresh too) in assisting his decision-making.

While some embrace their new roles pretty swiftly, appearing almost on a daily basis in all the mainstream media with more announcements and promises, some new faces seem to be slowly shaping and adapting themselves accordingly.

For instance, Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu could easily be the most illustrious and perhaps “entertaining” minister so far, while Transport Minister Anthony Loke seems to be rather prepared with all the answers and statistics each time he makes an appearance.

No one can deny the dexterity of Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng in his “machine gun-paced” revelations of the country’s economic state.

Then, we have Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik’s daily rounds at different schools — which is rather intriguing and entertaining — that have gotten good coverage from the social media fraternity.

The most popular among the new Cabinet must be Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, who not only is the youngest of the lot, but the one with the most attention.

The Pakatan Harapan “poster boy” has so far donned the cover of glossy magazines, while making appearances on television programmes that seem to please pop-culture vultures.

Even his stint as a “garbage collector” after a football match became viral among his “fans and detractors” alike.

The question remains, with a new layout and all the “renovation” and trimmings that go with it, will the house stand long enough until the next election?

Here are some of the technocrats that made the list:

Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad

The 62-year-old Dzulkefly assumed office in the Health Ministry, replacing Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam.

The Parti Amanah Negara politician holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Birmingham and a Master of Science from the University of Surrey, UK.

He pursued his doctorate in Medical Science, specifically in Toxicology, from Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine in London and graduated in 1993.

He also had his fair share in education after serving as a lecturer at the Faculty of Medical Sciences of Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang and the Universiti Sains Malaysia Hospital in Kelantan between the 1980s and 1990s.

Dr Maszlee Malik

Maszlee, a Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia MP for Simpang Renggam, was named the education minister after Dr Mahathir was criticised for nominating himself to head the portfolio — a decision which contradicted Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto that no minister should hold more than one position.

Maszlee completed his doctorate in Political Science from Durham University in the UK and published a doctoral thesis titled “Constructing the Architectonics and Formulating the Articulation of Islamic Governance: A Discursive Attempt in Islamic Epistemology”.

Fluent in Malay, Arabic and English, he taught at the International Islamic University Malaysia (UIA), and was attached to the Political Science Department.

Yeo Bee Yin

The youngest female minister in the Cabinet, Yeo Bee Yin was sworn in as the Minister of Energy, Green Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment after winning her parliamentary seat in Bakri.

In 2010, after working with oilfield services firm Schlumberger Ltd for two years, Yeo received a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation scholarship to pursue her Master’s degree at Cambridge University.

Yeo earlier graduated from Universiti Teknologi Petronas with First Class Honours in Chemical Engineering in the UK.

Lim Guan Eng

With a background in accountancy, Lim was among the first batch of ministers announced by Dr Mahathir in his new line-up of the Cabinet.

The finance minister received

his tertiary education from Monash University in Australia with a Bachelor in Economics and became a qualified professional accountant in 1983.

Prior to his foray in politics, which could have been inspired by his father — veteran politician Lim Kit Siang — Lim was part of the corporate world, serving the banking industry as a senior executive.

Sim Tze Tzin

The Bayan Baru MP is part of the new government’s strategy of forming a strong Cabinet.

Sim was named the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry deputy minister, assisting Salahuddin Ayub from Amanah.

Sim graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (with Honours) from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) in 1999, and was elected as the first non-Malay in the UTM Students’ Representative Council.

He pursued his Master of Science (Civil) in Highway Engineering at San José State University in the US, while working full-time in California as a highway design engineer between 2001 and 2006.

Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali

The former Selangor mentri besar, one of the strong figures of PKR, Mohamed Azmin was roped in to helm the Economic Affairs Ministry.

He graduated from the University of Minnesota in the US with a degree in Math and Economics before continuing his Master’s in Education at the same university.

Immediately upon graduation, Mohamed Azmin joined politics and was visibly at the side of his mentor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, PKR’s de facto leader, at many key events.

Gobind Singh Deo

Son to the late DAP leader and renowned lawyer Karpal Singh, Gobind is the first Sikh minister, leading the Communications and Multimedia Ministry after keeping his Puchong constituency.

A practising lawyer since 1996, he holds a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Warwick in the UK and was admitted to the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn as a barrister-at-law.

A year after his return, he was admitted to the Malaysian Bar and continued to serve in his father’s law firm Messrs Karpal Singh and Co until 2006.

Gobind had also set up his own firm in Kuala Lumpur, Messrs Gobind Singh and Co, which he runs until today.