MCA the biggest loser in Najib’s new Cabinet

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid

KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 – MCA is the biggest loser after Datuk Seri Najib Razak dished the ministerial portfolios – traditionally reserved for the ruling Chinese party – today to its allies in the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition while naming his new Cabinet for 2013.

The Health Ministry had been long-helmed by MCA lawmakers but the portfolio slipped out of the party’s hands and into MIC president Datuk Seri G. Palanivel’s lap.

Likewise the Transport Ministry, another portfolio usually reserved for the BN Chinese component party, was given to Umno’s Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, who was also appointed the new defence minister.

MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai (picture) had been the previous health minister, while party secretary-general Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha had been the transport minister last term.

Liow had succeeded in defending his Bentong federal seat although with a far thinner margin, drawing just 800-over votes more than his opponent. Kong was defeated in the Lumut parliamentary contest at the May 5 general election.

MCA had won only seven federal seats and 11 state seats out of the 37 parliamentary seats and 90 state seats it contested – less than half the federal seats it took in 2008.

Party president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek had said that the party will not accept any government post in light of the party’s poor showing in the recently-concluded elections.

And although Najib said the transport ministry is still there for MCA’s taking pending a decision by the party’s leadership, Chinese representation in the government is seen to have drastically shrunk to one, with the surprise inclusion of Datuk Paul Low Seng Kwan.

Low, who is president of the Malaysian chapter of international corruption watchdog, Transparency International, was picked to be senator and made a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.

Najib and other BN leaders, including former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, had recently called on the MCA to reconsider its decision to refuse all government posts, saying an absence of Chinese leaders at the government’s top decision-making level could heighten racial tensions.

But former MCA president and transport minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat had said that “effective” representation of the people is more important than having Chinese faces in the government.

Ong had said the need for such representation reflected an “old” way of thinking, and added that those wielding power should work to serve all Malaysians instead.

The 13-party BN coalition, which succeeded the Umno-MCA-MIC union founded before the country’s Independence in 1957, had kept to the age-old power-sharing formula to form government by appointing ministers representatives from each of the three main race-based parties.

Several Chinese associations have said they are not worried about the possibility of a Cabinet without a single Chinese face because in the country’s new political landscape, any minister regardless of race must represent all Malaysians.

  • Peeling out at Octane Academy, the free driving school for Ford Focus ST or Fiesta ST buyers 1 minute 47 seconds ago
    Peeling out at Octane Academy, the free driving school for Ford Focus ST or Fiesta ST buyers

    Buyers of Ferraris or Jaguars are used to perks from manufacturers – including racetrack lessons to help master their exotic machines. But for enthusiasts on a tighter budget, the Ford ST Octane Academy might be the sweetest deal in motoring: Buy a Ford Fiesta ST or Focus ST hatchback, and the reward is a free day of training at one of America’s longest, most-lavish road courses.

  • Why you can't buy America's greenest car 3 hours ago
    Why you can't buy America's greenest car

    Ask me or any auto expert what's the fastest car you can buy for any given amount, and we could easily cough up several options. Same for most luxurious, or off-roadable, or any other measurement. Yet there's one type of question that's far harder to answer: What's the greenest, most environmentally friendly car you can buy today?

  • Audi TT Offroad concept debuts as a 124-mpg hybrid with wireless charging 3 hours ago
    Audi TT Offroad concept debuts as a 124-mpg hybrid with wireless charging

    The TT. Audi's diminutive sports car. Since production began in 1998, the two-door coupe has aged with the pugnacity of a grizzled New Yorker, but not in size. And why would it, as the arrival of the TT RS proved, adding some grit makes for a rather captivating dish. And so you'll excuse us for being puzzled by the Audi TT Offroad concept.

  • Pirates kidnap three on Singapore tanker off Malaysia
    Pirates kidnap three on Singapore tanker off Malaysia

    Armed pirates boarded a Singapore-managed oil tanker in the Strait of Malacca, kidnapping three Indonesian crew and stealing some of the vessel's shipment of diesel fuel, the International Maritime Bureau said Wednesday. The attack occurred early Tuesday off Malaysia's west coast, said Noel Choong, head of IMB's Kuala Lumpur-based piracy reporting centre. The diesel oil tanker was believed to be en route to Myanmar. "IMB is aware of the attack on the Singapore-managed ship in the Malacca Straits.

  • McDonald's Hello Kitty sale site temporarily suspended due to fresh wave of Kitty mania
    McDonald's Hello Kitty sale site temporarily suspended due to fresh wave of Kitty mania

    It may not be safe to enter a McDonald’s restaurant in Singapore on Mondays starting 28 April. To celebrate the iconic Japanese character Hello Kitty’s 40th anniversary, the fast food chain announced last Friday that it would be releasing a new collection of Hello Kitty toys in McDonald’s restaurants island wide next Monday.

  • First sign of S.Korea ferry disaster was call from a frightened boy
    First sign of S.Korea ferry disaster was call from a frightened boy

    He called the emergency 119 number which put him through to the fire service, which in turn forwarded him to the coastguard two minutes later. That was followed by about 20 other calls from children on board the ship to the emergency number, a fire service officer told Reuters.