OPINION: My advice to the new PM

KUALA LUMPUR (Sin Chew Daily/ANN) - Public reactions have been polarized although majority of people would rather adopt a wait-and-see attitude.

To be honest, Muhyiddin's PM post has never come by a democratic process and lacks a consensus base.

He was lifted high on the pedestal by people out of sheer interest, and any change to the equilibrium could prompt the same group of people to take him down in their quest for more power.

Muhyiddin said something nice to the ears of listeners in his maiden speech as PM, such as his desire to be a PM for all, meritocracy, economic development and improving the life of Malaysians, among other things.

Public reactions have been polarized although majority of people would rather adopt a wait-and-see attitude.

Malaysians are not known to be a patient lot, and the previous PH administration is well aware of this, thinking that they could drag things on a little longer. Allies can be turned into rivals in no time (read PH). Muhyiddin does not have too much time on his side. If he is not lucky enough, he can as well become the shortest-serving PM in the nation's history.

To stay a little longer in office, the only thing Muhyiddin can do is to do his PM job properly and win the trust of the rakyat so that he can have another chance to survive Malaysia's brutal political crocodile pond.

If possible, I would very much love to offer some advice to the prime minister for the sake of the country, and himself:

1. Appoint a health minister immediately: We can understand Muhyiddin needs time to put up his cabinet. It is better to get a good cabinet than rushing out a rotten one, anyway. But, he has to first appoint a health minister to fight the coronavirus. The addition of 14 new confirmed cases today speaks volumes of its urgency.

Without a minister, the team fighting the virus will not have a leadership center. Even though health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah is temporarily taking up the role as leader, being a civil servant he lacks political power to make major decisions.

This vacuum period could be a very crucial one and this country simply cannot afford to take such a momentous risk.

The overall performance of the previous PH administration aside, former health minister Dzulkefly Ahmad and his deputy Lee Boon Chye are all professionals who did their jobs dutifully in battling the virus.

It is a sad thing both had to leave as a consequence of government change. Muhyiddin's priority now is to get someone suitable to take over.

2. Put up a clean and capable cabinet: Muhyiddin said he wanted to put clean and capable people in his cabinet, and we will see whether he will do just that.

To gain back the confidence of Malaysians, the prime minister must first and foremost exclude people tainted with corruption from his cabinet. Those with court cases such as Najib, Ahmad Zahid and Abdul Aziz must never get into the cabinet again, nor their agents.

Umno is a key component of the new alliance. These people have helped put Muhyiddin in the prime minister's office. The thing is, this is not the time to hand out handsome rewards for loyal support. Once corruption-tainted politicians get the rewards, it will signal the beginning of the new government's fall.

Cabinet ministers can be non-partisan or even non-politicians. It will remarkably boost the credibility of the new government if Muhyiddin would pick capable people from outside the political circle to serve in his government.

3. Existing cases must not be canceled or delayed: Corruption cases prosecuted by the PH administration must be continued, including those against Najib, Rosmah, Ahmad Zahid, Tengku Adnan and Abdul Aziz.

The new attorney-general must be fully independent, professional and credible when it come to following up corruption cases. In no way should the new government intervene or attempt to influence court decisions. Judicial independence must be fully respected.

4. Be a PM for all Malaysians: Many have reservations about Muhyiddin's open-mindedness and attitude towards the country's ethnic relations, and the lack of minority representation in his administration constitutes an added concern.

Despite the fact the new government is principally made up of Malay-Muslim parties, as prime minister Muhyiddin should know that he is leading a multicultural, multireligious country and that this diversity has always been the cornerstone in our nation-building.

He should take into consideration the common destiny of this country, and adopt a more liberal and moderate political path to win the support of Malaysians.

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