A prime minister does a lot.
This is why in regular countries the PM has no specific ministry.
Because as PM he is ultimately responsible for all the ministers, which is why he gets to choose them.
But after choosing them, he has to let them get on with it.
Of course, a while back, a prime minister was so insecure about attacks — after his party expired when he allegedly manipulated elections — that he felt the best way to lead is to keep control.
Control of everything.
He embraced it wholeheartedly. Stacking up the PM’s department with ministers who’d be supervising areas too critical to be left in the hands of regular ministers.
So when a decade later, he chose to sack an internationally loved deputy prime minister — Anwar Ibrahim worked hard on his image — he stayed true to his game plan, he also became finance minister too.
At the back of his mind, he may have been thinking, “do I actually need a Cabinet?”
After all in his mind, he does everything better than everyone else.
Time and the human body
I understand there are so many Mahathir Mohamad lovers in the country, so I won’t challenge the idea he is bar none the smartest man Malaysia has ever had. Let him and his followers binge on the Ataturk-ish think.
But they have to concede they have not overwhelmed the rule of time.
Time in the overall, and time in the daily sense.
This is why Khazanah, for example, is not something he has should be handling.
He was hankering for overreach right after the elections in May, when he tested the water with the education ministry portfolio. He backed down quickly. But there was for all to see, that the sad tales he told in his ads for the elections, about how he made mistakes in the past and wanted to undo them by returning to power, may have not been completely sincere.
Mahathir believes everything is fine as long as he is in charge, of it all.
He has to alter this, because this country has a heartbeat beyond his lifetime.
If Malaysia is worthy, then the people in the country are worthy, and by that extension among its sons and daughters are many who can lead various ministries, agencies and government holdings.
There has to be oversight and regulation of course. Everyone is accountable. And for that we should have many other Malaysians looking over the shoulders of other Malaysians. The culture of accountability and transparency will emerge from the empowerment of hundreds of thousands of Malaysians who do not feel they have enough access to build their country.
If Mahathir felt in his Umno PM years, he had too many incapable men and therefore he sidestepped them, then he has only himself to blame.
He put them there, because they would yield to him. And men who yield for power are not men who lead. They are men who follow.
He put followers and then was disappointed that they followed and did not provide value.
It is a time of renewal, not band aids.
Mahathir should stay out of business. He is PM, ultimately, Khazanah will bow down to him, because it belongs to government. He does not need to be chair or attend board meetings. His people will inform him when he needs to be informed.
There is a government reform going on, and it needs his attention. He already chairs enough governmental committees which PMs generally chair, and as they should.
There is only that many places he can be, and the rest of the reform has to be performed by others. He has to trust people, finally, at the tail-end of his years in government, he has to trust people. Trust them through their failings, and trust them to their successes, so they too have the experience to lead others.
That’s #MalaysiaBaru in a paragraph.