Friday, April 10, 2009

Great Start with Cabinet - Now Some Tough Work

Now that the cabinet has been assembled, it's time to get some government work done. The main issues of interest to me and colleagues alike:

FINANCE! No surprise there with Dato' Najib still holding on to the most crucial portfolio in our trying times. Where is our second Fortune 500 to kick in more revenue for the country? We cannot be dependent on oil as the main revenue stream forever. What is our stand on continuing fuel subsidy? Should we scout around for great acquisition opportunities overseas, i.e. GM, GE? The new wave of GLC bosses would definitely determine whether Dato' Najib's ambition to put us back on track would materialize. How about reactivating vital economic projects, i.e. Bridge to Singapore? Shelf the second bridge project in Penang, is it really a necessity now? What of our bad investments via CTRM in the US and such? Hmmmm Tenaga made some big losses there last year, what's your plan sir?

Home: Dato' Hisham will face the enormous task of lowering crime figures, studying the ISA to be more "acceptable" to the general public, cracking down on the increase of foreign labors. As much as we want this to be a free country for press and media, hate groups such as Hindraf should be banned and locked up for good. Need to increase the number of cops and their salary. ISA is a required component of national security.

Defence: Dato' Zahid, please get our radars up and running, attempt to reach the impossible level of getting a 1:1 ratio of pilots to planes, define a defence doctrine, cease irrational procurements, increase the number of soldiers and their salary. Please cease the usage of military assets for NGO use. Perhaps getting our Navy in more engaging roles internationally like the recent escort mission in Gulf of Aden. RMC new campus and IB program still on?

Transport: What of the government's promise to add a perpendicular line to the current LRT track? The greatest challenge is overcoming bureaucratic hurdles of coordinating with multiples agencies and government bodies to get this going. I hope Labu airport is off the table for good. what of the national physical plan?

MITI: Mainly to finalize the FTA with the US, obviously to ensure that our interests are protected against giant congolomerates eating up mom & pop setups, regardless of what they say about how rewarding capitalism is. Malaysia Kitchen project should be continued and expanded. Need to boost our exports before it really hurts us dramatically, source for new emerging markets in South America and Middle East. What of APs and the national automotive policy? When are these being phased out?

MOSTI: Please don't send another space tourist, purchase exorbitant space suits and capsules. Continue to strengthen MDeC and Biotech Corp in facilitating home grown companies to capture a better slice in the market overseas. MOSTI has been busting their budgets for years. Need to be able to manage their finances better.

Sports: Please don't over-promise and under-deliver. For this one term, focus on a few projects, please do not use public funds to procure facilities overseas. If the football team makes it somewhere regionally or globally, it'll be a good enough term/KPI. Avoid being too ambitious. Study viability of getting more involved in increasingly popular sporting events among youths, i.e. paintball, futsal.

Foreign Affairs: The continuous battle to settle border disputes must continue full steam ahead. Study the possibility of retaking Pulau Batu Putih at all cost to boost political morale! Bridge to Singapore?

Rural Development: Since a Sabahan is leading this ministry, we should not hear any more complaints about not having water and electricity in schools and homes. Sabah is one of the biggest recipients of federal funds and now one of three vice presidents of UMNO is the minister of rural development. So, let's see some work done.

Agro: OK, now that Agro bank has been 'commercialized', why is it still difficult to extract loans for small & medium farmers? Easy for the big congolomerates to say, they're getting the juicy stuff. Should study Yunus' microcredit program in Bangladesh. The target for this ministry should be 'self-sufficiency' for food supply.

Energy, Green Tech & Water: Is Peter Chin up to it to assess the viability of alternative energy and fuel replacement initiative? What is the commercial viability of biofuel, wind farms, nuclear, geothermal and such for the country? Wasn't nuclear discussed at some point of time last year?

Plantation and Commodities: How is it that our island neighbor has the biggest asset base in palm oil but we've got all the land?

Above all, Dato' Najib has stressed on minimizing formalities. No more red carpets, trips to Disneyland, RM100k watches for anniversary, tonnes of billboards with minister's face next to PM and TPM, etc. Watch your budgets like a hawk. Study the auditor-general's latest report and fix the flaws pronto. These are robust KPIs to monitor. Kick out ministers resting on their laurels.

New Cabinet
Marina's take
Datuk Kadir Jasin's view

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