Ismail Sabri’s handpicked ministers will be sworn into the cabinet today.
His is an administration that has finally broken free (‘merdeka’) from the shackles of our colonial past.
Ismail Sabri is the first prime minister who has put behind him the outdated conventions of the Perikatan – both Tunku’s and Muhyiddin’s reboot – and charting afresh our country’s course.
He did not cave in to the invidious agitprop to appoint a ‘unity government’, i.e. include DAP leaders despite their propaganda overdrive on “inclusion” and “inclusivity”.
The Alliance or Perikatan 1.0 which ruled Malaysia from 1957 to 1969, and its heir the BN which ruled until 2018 had invariably propped up the old Ali-Ah Chong and Muthu neo-colonial foundation myth in each of its cabinets under PMs 1 – 6.
The premiership of Ismail Sabri, on the other hand, has successfully thrown off the rusty chains tying the ruling coalition to a necessary degree of non-Bumiputera support.
Let’s quickly review the old before we take a closer look at Ismail Sabri’s New Deal.
There were SIX Chinese ministers in the Badawi 2004 BN cabinet, as follows:
- Ong Ka Ting (Housing)
- Lim Keng Yaik (Energy)
- Chan Kong Choy (Transport)
- Fong Chan Onn (Human Resources)
- Peter Chin Fah Kui (Plantation & Commodities)
- Dr Chua Soi Lek (Health)
There were only FIVE Chinese ministers in the Mahathir Harapan 2018 cabinet, as follows:
- Lim Guan Eng (Finance)
- Anthony Loke (Transport)
- Yeo Bee Yin (Energy)
- Teresa Kok (Primary Industries)
- Liew Vui Keong (Law)
This despite the Chinese electorate giving 95 percent of their votes to the DAP and its allies.
And today, we will witness ONE Chinese – Wee Ka Siong – take his oath of office as a full minister.
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As for the deputy ministers, PM Badawi appointed twelve Chinese to his 2004 cabinet, as follows:
- Tan Chai Ho (Home Affairs)
- Chia Kwang Chye (Internal Security)
- Ng Yen Yen (Finance)
- Robert Lau Hoi Chew (Housing)
- Donald Lim Siang Chai (Information)
- Kerk Choo Ting (Agriculture)
- Kong Cho Ha (Science & Tech)
- Wong Kam Hoong (Arts & Culture)
- Ong Tee Keat (Youth & Sports)
- Mah Siew Keong (International Trade & Industry)
- Hon Choon Kim (Education)
- Fu Ah Kiow (Higher Education)
By comparison, PM Mahathir 2.0 appointed only eight Chinese deputy ministers in 2018, as follows:
- Lee Boon Chye (Health)
- Sim Tze Sin (Agriculture)
- Liew Chin Tong (Defence)
- Hannah Yeoh (Women & Family)
- Steven Sim (Youth & Sports)
- Ong Kian Ming (International Trade & Industry)
- Teo Nie Ching (Education)
- Chong Chieng Jen (Domestic Trade)
And presently, PM Ismail Sabri is appointing four Chinese deputy ministers, as follows:
- Lim Ban Hong
- Mah Hang Soon
- Wee Jeck Seng
- Ti Lian Ker
In summary with regard to the number of deputy ministers, Chinese representation shrunk from 2004-BN’s twelve to 2018-Harapan’s eight to 2021-rump BN’s mere four timbalan menteri Cina.
Chinese on govt bench in Dewan Rakyat
In the 2004 parliament led by Ahmad Badawi, there were 51 Chinese MPs in government — see full name list at the bottom of this page.
In the current parliament, there are possibly five Chinese MPs on the government side comprising the MCA’s two Wee’s — Ka Siong and Jeck Seng, Sarawak’s Tiong King Sing and (according to media reports) the two independent but government-friendly MPs, Larry Sng and Steven Choong.
By any measure, the Chinese have excluded themselves from wielding influence in the establishment. And it is through their own GE14 voting choices.
Elections have consequences!
As a residual legacy of the GE14 results, Ismail Sabri has been able to form a game-changing cabinet that largely leaves the whinging Chinese on the margins.
And for icing on the cake, Ismail Sabri’s is an ‘ubah’ cabinet, i.e. providing a refreshing change from the old cabinets (barring the 17 Muhyiddin months between March 2020 and August 2021) which had always featured a mandatory chunk of Chinese BN faces. Well, no more.
Ismail Sabri’s is also a ‘reform’ cabinet in that it places more stress on Islam and giving – for the first time – PAS full charge of Religious Affairs. The Islamist party has been granted the portfolios of Menteri Hal Ehwal Agama as well as Timbalan Menteri Hal Ehwal Agama both.
Therefore, Ismail Sabri’s cabinet is fittingly a Merdeka portmanteau as PAS and its pious are finally ‘freed’ from bullying by Chinese politicians (who now only make up a very small minority of the government).
If DAP were to be a strong component of the ruling party, then for certain PAS would be dreadfully bullied.
BN Chinese Members of Parliament 2004
- Ong Ka Ting
- Fong Chan Onn
- Chan Kong Choy
- Chua Soi Lek
- Lim Si Cheng
- Tan Chai Ho
- Ong Tee Keat
- Ng Yen Yen
- Hon Choon Kim
- Donald Lim Siang Chai
- Fu Ah Kiow
- Wong Kam Hoong
- Kong Cho Ha
- Tan Yee Kew
- Chew Mei Fun
- Chua Jui Meng
- Ting Chew Peh
- Loke Yuen Yow
- Chor Chee Heung
- Yap Pian Hon
- Hew See Tong
- Goh Siow Huat
- Loh Seng Kok
- Tan Ah Eng
- Liow Tiong Lai
- Wee Ka Siong
- Wong Nai Chee
- Hoo Seong Chang
- Lim Bee Kau
- Teng Boon Soon
- Yew Teong Look
- Lim Keng Yaik
- Chia Kwang Chye
- Ng Lip Yong
- Lee Kah Choon
- Kerk Choo Ting
- Tan Kee Kwong
- Huan Cheng Guan
- Tan Lian Hoe
- Lau Yeng Peng
- Mah Siew Keong
- Law Hieng Ding
- Peter Chin Fah Kui
- Robert Lau Hoi Chew
- Yong Khoon Seng
- Tiong Thai King
Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS)
- Edmund Chong Ket Wah
- Yee Moh Chai
Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party — (1) Tiong King Sing
Parti Rakyat Sarawak — (1) Jimmy Donald Lim
Sabah Progressive Party — (1) Shim Paw Fatt