Tuesday, February 14, 2006

New Ministers

Yes! After a prolonged speculation period since last October, the cabinet is finally finally reshuffled. Despite the overall changes being not particularly drastic (nor impressive), we do have a few new ministers for education.

Dare I say thankfully, that one of the most prominent changes to the cabinet is the exclusion of Datuk Dr Shafie Salleh from not just retaining his portfolio as the Minister of Higher Education, but from the cabinet altogether. Speculation has been rife since last year the he has been one of the underperforming ministers (albeit not the only one) and clearly his recent attempts to "assert" his influence through a series of media announcements on issues such as the Malaysian Qualifications Agency, inter-varsity graduates etc. have failed to impress. And our Prime Minister has decided that he hasn't been doing his job, despite his recent request of "bagi saya chance".

The replacement for Datuk Dr Shafie Salleh, whom you'll probably hear less on this blog from hence on, is surprisingly, Datuk Mustapha Mohamed, formerly the second Finance Minister. Definitely, on paper, he is a much stronger candidate for the Higher Education portfolio - although I'm surprised he is given the appointment as he has often been touted as "finance" man. However, his appointment could signal that Pak Lah has decided that the portfolio deserves a heavyweight minister who could do the job with the necessary intelligence and efficiency. I do have confidence that Datuk Mustapha Mohamed will do a significantly better job than his predecessor.

On top of the new Minister of Higher Education, we also have a new deputy for the ministry - Datuk Ong Tee Keat, who is also the former chief of Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and a current Vice-President of the party replacing the colourless Datuk Fu Ah Kiow. Being one of the more outspoken members of MCA, as well as one of the party's leaders I actually do have some respect for, I believe that his appointment bodes well for the Ministry. Instead of Datuk Fu, who belonged to the old school of quiet compliance to the UMNO superiors, Datuk Ong may just not (hopefully) be so mallaeble.

Hence all in all, I think the above are excellent appointments (given the cabinet talent pool we have) to the Ministry of Higher Education. Let us hope for much better news for higher education in Malaysia from now onwards.

For the Ministry of Education, we see one eye-opening change, that is the retirement of Datuk Dr Mahadzir Mohd Khir but the appointment of Datuk Noh Omar, formerly the deputy internal security minister. Yes, the very same one who asked all foreigners unhappy with Malaysia's police treatment to "go home". That's the same one who put Malaysian on the world map with the news of his comment travelling to all four corners of our planet! It is indeed more than a tad disappointing that he is even retained as a minister in our cabinet. Sigh.

Oh, one more little thing of note, the neither here nor there position of a special envoy for higher education with ministerial status held by Datuk Dr Mohd Effendi Norwawi is no more (phew!). Datuk Dr Mohd Effendi Norwawi has now been reassigned as a minister in the Prime Minister's office to meet the quota for Sarawak ministers.

With two years left to the elections, let's hope these new team of ministers are up to the task of improving the quality and standards of education in Malaysia.

7 comments:

SK said...

The biggest surprise, for me, came from the appointment of Noh Omar as the Deputy Edu. Minister.

How should we react, actually?

Anonymous said...

Maybe Ah Noh will say "We dont need foreign students here".......

Anonymous said...

Actually, he would say, "if you don't like our education system, you all can go back to your country"...

Anonymous said...

The new minister for higher ed is a Kelantanese. The UM VC is a Kelantanese. Oh please let the myth that the Kelantanese would rather choose a fellow Kelantanese, no matter how incompetent, over any one else be untrue!!!

Anonymous said...

We already have a kris-waving Education Minister and now a former cop and lawyer buruk as Deputy Education Minister? UUCA to be reviewed? Yeah to be even more restrictive.

It dawn on me these appointment betray the unconscious bias of where the top leadership believe the main problem of education is in the universities. It shows that they don't understand that the problem of education is systematic throughout. The idea here is to parachute in a better technocrat and more gung-ho Chinaman to fix the problem. Its like trying to renovate the Attap house while the foundation is not fix i.e. more patch it up solution - the bolehland way.

I think we can see more local media sensationalizing a few achievements while systematically the improvements will be marginal. Considering how far behind we are, its sad, really sad.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the UM Kapitan VC is celebrating his good fortune - always so lucky, the previous Minister kena sacked before his 3-year VC term is due to be up for renewal or termination, echoing his previous great escape when Alatas was sacked just before Alatas was about to haul him up for something that he did. Maybe, he has a blessed life. Even his dear wife has got her promotion just before retirement. A truly well calculated move from UKM to UM.

Anonymous said...

how to improve the ranking of our local u if you are talking of national agenda now & some other agenda later on.It is time for our policy maker to wake up. there should be no other agenda except the agenda to make it to the table of respected U in the world.We will never make it. kyl