It looks like in the quiet Najib Razak can be unsuspectingly lethal as shown in the ouster of the Terengganu MB not too long ago.
The Cabinet appointments just announced:
- MCA president Liow Tiong Lai – Transport Minister.
- MCA vice president Wee Ka Siong – Minister at the Prime Minister’s Department
- Senator Lee Chee Leong – Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister
- Chua Tee Yong – Deputy Finance Minister
- Chew Mei Fun will hold the portfolio of Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister
I would read Najib’s 2+3 appointments today as snub to the MCA.
The party had demanded a lot more actually. In 2004, MCA was given 4+9 and in 2008 they had 4+6.
(1) The status quo is maintained. None of the other Ministers have been moved or removed. The Transport Ministry had been kept on hold for the MCA since May 2013 and Hisham was only the acting Minister, so there is no shake up.
(2) Tee Yong as Deputy in the important Finance Ministry is an elevation from his previous post as Deputy Agriculture Minister.
The appointment of Chua Jr is a tactical play by the PM to balance the factions involved in the MCA infighting. It’s an open secret that Chua Soi Lek and Liow Tiong Lai are bitter rivals and in fact, it was not his party that recommended Dr Chua for the Tan Sri title he received recently.
(3) Good call by Najib on Chew Mei Fun. If anyone from the MCA deserves it, she does. She will have to be made a Senator first. Congrats, Datin Paduka.
[Update (June 26): Chew Mei Fun has been appointed a Senator beginning 25 June 2014 for a three-year term.]
(4) Although Wee Ka Siong is one up from his previous post as Deputy Education Minister by now being made a full minister, still the JPM is not a portfolio that will allow much room for Wee to wheel and deal. Unlike the Ministers who have their own Ministry budgets, the ones in JPM come under the Najib big umbrella.
If anyone still remembers Hindraf P. Waythamoorthy’s walkout, then we will realise that the JPM minister (or at least the Deputy Minister) is not provided an adequate budget with perhaps the exception of Idris Jala.
In the JPM, Wee will be sebaris with Idris, Jamil Khir Baharom, Shahidan Kassim, Joseph Kurup, Joseph Entulu, Paul Low, Nancy Shukri and Abdul Wahid Omar.
Hence Wee will be the 9th minister in the PM’s Dept. Nothing to shout about. It’s a smart move by Najib to neutralize Wee who is known to be brainier than Liow.
(5) Notably, the MCA was not given the Housing Ministry which the party averred that they deserve in order to administer the Chinese New Villages. Not returning this particular Ministry to the MCA, which the party had held in the past Cabinets, is depriving them of maintaining whatever influence they might still have retained among the Chinese grassroots.
Liow and Wee were desperate for the Cabinet positions. The present outcome is not up to to their expectations.
There is no way for MCA to go but down. The party will be dead by GE14, I’m very sure. Already in GE13, they “gave away” the Gelang Patah, Kuantan and Wangsa Maju Parliament seats for Umno to contest.
For the coming general election, Umno should relieve MCA of the seats the latter lost in GE13 — Alor Setar (62 percent Malay voters), Bandar Tun Razak (53% Malay) and Lumut (51% Malay).
There are some borderline mixed seats that MCA will be unable to defend in GE14, i.e. Tebrau, Johor (electorate Malay 47%, Chinese 38%, Indian 13%) where MCA had obtained a majority of 1,767 votes — which can easily be overturned if the DAP – and Singapore – continue to make inroads in the state, and Malays are additionally upset with Umno.
And there is Bentong which the MCA president held on to with the most unconvincing majority of 379 votes against DAP political newcomer Wong Tack of the anti-Lynas fame, dan kemenangan Liow itupun hanya on account of Pahang Menteri Besar Adnan Yaakob wagering his ear on the result.
I believe Najib’s decision today defers to the strong sentiments within Umno which are not favourable of MCA.
On the part of MCA, the party knows that its fate is sealed. Najib did not throw them any lifeline. Thus, what to expect of MCA with the certain knowledge that a death sentence is hanging over the party? If I were Umno, I’d wear armour to protect my back. The gunting is being sharpened even as we speak.
Postscript (1): Gerakan president Mah Siew Keong got a Ministership as promised.
Postscript (2): Just saw this reader’s comment in Malaysiakini, Anonymous_3f6d: “Next Press Conf. on MH370 will be conducted in Mandarin by the new Transport Minister !..”
Hahaha, that’s funny.