Monday, August 1, 2011

Palanivel, Cabinet numbers and Parkinson’s laws — Sakmongkol AK47

Side Views

August 01, 2011
The Malaysian Insider

AUG 1 — If Palanivel is the deeply religious person everyone seems to think and has any moral compunction, he will decline the offer of a cabinet post. But as everyone knows, these MIC leaders have too much of the mandore-quotient to let this opportunity go.

Surely, we will be told that in the name of service to the nation, Palanivel will accept the gratuitous offer for a cabinet post. Why not? It comes with the prestige and the chance to coast along giving the appearance of being hardworking.

What has Palinivel offered? He didn’t win any parliamentary seat. His contribution to Hulu Selangor when he was MP there nearly cost the BN the seat last time. We all heard the folks in Hulu Selangor lambasting him for not being seen in the constituency. He was the invisible man.

He was made a senator, deputy minister and now full minister on account of what? He will do Umno’s biddings. The MIC president will be Uncle Tom-ming all along or in his case, Uncle-Jibbing all the time. Lacking the merit and mandate how can Palani speak with conviction about Indians? The just released Dr Jeyakumar is held in higher esteem than Palanivel.

What he has done is just to add to the notoriety of the Najib cabinet being the largest in our history. Tengku Abdul Rahman had a cabinet of some 16 people I think. Pak Lah had 33. Najib now has 39? That’s one short of the fabled number of a group of 40 people who made a living by relieving others of their wealth and property. But then the current crop of members in the cabinet has achieved notoriety surpassing the fabled band of 40.

The Najib cabinet is eerily becoming what Mugabe is doing to the Zimbabwean cabinet. People seemed to think that the seriousness of governance is measured by the increase in the number of cabinet positions. Mugabe in an effort to demonstrate substance keeps on increasing the number of cabinet members.

By Jove! Parkinson’s Laws do work everywhere after all.

One version of the law states that the increase in the number of employees at the Colonial Office is highest as Great Britain’s overseas empire declined; the Colonial Office had its greatest number of staff at the point when it was folded into the Foreign Office because of a lack of colonies to administer.

Could it also be that the increase in our own cabinet members becomes more prominent while the actual cabinet tasks declined? That is scary.

How can we explain this fetish to increase the size of the cabinet? Perhaps two forces are at work here:

A Minister wants to multiply subordinates, not rivals.

And Ministers make work for each other.

That reminds me of what my late Economics professor at UM, Harcharan Singh, used to say: in Russia there’s no unemployment of any kind because one cow is looked after by 40 people. We have a zero unemployment cabinet then. What will Palanivel do as a minister which job is not being done by someone else now? Refer to Parkinson’s laws above.

That is in defiance of the promise by our PM to have a small cabinet. PKR has more Indian MPs than MIC. In the next round, MIC will probably be decimated. PPP claims to also represent the Indians. I know cabinet appointments are the prerogative of the PM as head of the cabinet. But I think cabinet appointment must also reflect a moral standing. Palanivel didn’t win any seat via elections, why should he be appointed a cabinet minister? MIC, which won only two seats last time, now has two full ministers. That’s a 100 per cent achievement. In addition it has deputy minister’s post.

MIC Indians are a privileged lot then. Threaten the PM and he will succumb to threats. I would have thought, the PM should have taken up the dare by the MIC Indians that they will not support the BN. See if the MIC leaders can talk big without any positions in the government. They will be running grovelling at the feet of the PM and will tell him, he is the greatest PM since Samy Vellu. Yes sir, Samy Vellu was PM to Malaysian Indians.

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