APRIL 9 — The genius which is not, Najib Razak has released his team — the Cabinet — today.
The premeditated manner of things, which are then masked as brave, considerate, inclusive and visionary, is just nauseating.
The number of ministers in the country was always excessive, and the levels of redundancies, overlaps and inefficiencies coupled with a shrinking kitty and spending spread was always going to force the choice upon the PM. The question is, did he do anything more than what was forced upon him?
I say premeditated because of the number of large billboards in the city put up overnight, now looming over all motorists with the thank you message without accrediting from whom the thanks come from, as in who is paying for the billboards.
Team Najib is out there, constructing a facade for the main man, and unlike the way most Malaysians bought the smile of Abdullah Badawi, Najib probably is going to receive the cynicism already ingrained in the electorate.
No media blitz is going to alter that.
There is much to muse about the new Cabinet, and we will in time, but I would like to comment on the appointment of Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to the education ministry.
With a stroke of a pen, Najib both saved his cousin Hishamuddin Hussein, and dispatched a seemingly strong DPM to break Gordian’s knot.
Nothing in Muhyiddin’s background suggests he will be able to either manoeuvre through and with the civil servants in the ministry known to procrastinate over everything; nor give a vision that would reconcile the factionalised education structure.
Of Chinese/Tamil/Arabic schools, of English for Maths and Science, of poorly trained teachers and of falsely rated exams. You take a pick, and you have Muhyiddin’s headache. Not sure if his children were packed off to international schools or just overseas.
So Najib gets to both live off Muhyiddin’s difficulties and keep him distracted while he builds his fortress in the party.
Muhyiddin for his part cannot reproach Najib for this poisoned chalice since he rode on the Pahang man’s coattail in the tail-end of his party post campaign. No disciplinary committee will remove Ali Rustam from the vote list without the tacit approval of Najib.
So you win some, and you lose some.
A DPM spot comes with trying to fire-fight and possibly lose ground in approval ratings through a stay in the education portfolio.
Muhyiddin would have to look at DPM ghosts of past to see his chances.
Of Musa Hitam who made his own way out since Mahathir could not stand someone looking that strong next to him; or Ghaffar who was weak from the word go and Mahathir kept until he overstayed his usefulness; and finally Anwar the protégé who was all twinkle eyed, until Mahathir realised that all protégés end up replacing you and Mahathir did not think he signed up for a replacement programme then conveniently instituted an exit plan for his deputy rather than himself.
So Muhyiddin has all the samples he needs, and he now knows the man who advises Najib is the man who specialises in the castration of deputies, Mahathir.
How will that play?