Najib, don't be the shortest term PM

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Dear Dato Seri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak,

First, Malaysians congratulate you on being appointed the sixth prime minister of our beloved country. Next, some quick wisdom for you.

Please reduce your cabinet size to not more than 20. For a small country with a population of about 26 million, 31 ministers handling about 30 ministries plus few more portfolios under the PM’s Department is probably one of the highest in the world per capita.

Yes, you said being the prime minister is a huge responsibility the people have given you. Actually, no. The people did not appoint you as a prime minister. You took it upon yourself. So the people do not owe you anything.

It is you who owe the people. So you will have to prove yourself. Stop being overconfident of having the royalty behind you. The royalty would only take a split second to shift sides if the balance of power swings the other way. So stop fooling yourself.

By reducing to the cabinet to 20:

i. You will save big money for the country especially during these difficult times. We know how much money it takes to run each ministry and how much leaks out to political party interests and for personal appeasements.

ii. The ministries will become more effective and dispense ‘quality’ and forceful decisions.

iii. You will reduce money politics tremendously. They won’t clamour for ministerial posts anymore because they must know and be told in very clear terms that ministerial positions do not come with party positions.

Malaysians cannot be cheated anymore. It is so clear who performs and who really doesn’t. A ministry is a very tall order. You cannot give it out like peanuts for political expediencies.

iv. You do not need to appease all coalition members by having a place for them in the cabinet. Be a bit creative. There is no shortage of positions of power all around you to fill. Some chairperson positions are better paid, they are able to dispense development and are more powerful than a minister.

v. The ministerial posts will become more elite, respectful and more influential.

And please stop the habit of accepting expensive gifts when attending functions. And please stop making special clothes for every specific function. You are burning by wholesale the people’s hardearned money which has these days fallen extremely scarce.

And stop awarding too many honours to people who did not work for them and who do not deserve them. Thousands of ‘Datuk-ship’ and other honours are given away to people by virtue of them just being members of political parties.

Do you know how people who have really contributed to the country’s betterment (not with money) year in and year out feel when they are bypassed for an award in favour of a neighbour who is just a branch head? How do you explain that?

And please appoint ministers by meritocracy and not by names submitted by the coalition parties. Heading a political party and heading a ministry is quite a different cup of tea altogether. Some leaders who come up in the party by money politics will expect to be appointed ministers in order to do some ‘recovery’. When the takers stop, the giving will stop too.

Malaysians are now far more intelligent than you imagine. You don’t know that because you are surrounded by people that only ampu you. So you do not know the truth. People won’t buy the same lame excuses that ‘the names submitted by the coalition party heads are the best in ‘quality’ for a ministerial appointment.’

You would be wiser if you ask these parties to submit a list of names with the candidates bio-data and professional achievements. Then you decide who would be best by meritocracy to be appointed ministers. You don’t want to be shamed when a minister is unable to show results to the citizens and you keep sinking in the polls.

You don’t want ministers that can’t even speak proper Bahasa Malaysia when answering in Parliament, would you? You don’t want ministers that cannot understand what it means to bring meaningful changes for the betterment of the country. You don’t want a minister who surrenders halfway saying he just can’t solve the taxi men’s recalcitrancy, would you?

I am sorry. But if Mohd Khir Toyo’s traveling and spending revelations are any indication, a much lesser number of ministers will mean saving government expenditure by the billions. Imagine, there are still many pockets of people living without a roof over their heads, without water and electricity.

They deserve this money more than anybody else. Now that many more are unemployed, you will never be able to explain to them or to the taxpayers such a serious betrayal of the people’s fund.

Please reduce serious wastage. Limit the money these ministers can spend overseas and make sure they stick to the budget. For every ringgit spent by your ministers both federal and state, the people will want to know what will they and the country get in return.

Real investments, real business and real opportunities. Malaysian people do not buy empty promises and empty hopes anymore. We have been cheated enough and for far too long. We now read between lines.

Do not appoint members of Umno Youth to a ministerial post. It is a big NO. It takes time and training before they can become a minister. You took a long time and the long route. So you are the best trained to be a prime minister. You could possibly even become the best prime minister this country will ever have.

But first, you will have to listen to the people. The changes you have been talking about and the ‘One Malaysia’ thing is good thing if done honestly and sincerely. But you will have to ask some of your big-mouthed ministers to watch their mouths and start listening to the people.

Stop behaving arrogantly with smugness and stop hurting the feelings and dignity of the rest of us. The Chinese, the Indians, the rest are here to stay. So stop treating them as second-class citizens.

We know you will have to repay your gratitude to the last two prime ministers. You must appoint Mukhriz and Khairy into the Cabinet. It is okay. But let them start from the deputy ministerial level.

Khairy will have to watch his mouth or he will bring you down. You don’t want that, would you?

Please change or the people might change you instead in no time. If you don’t buck up, please be reminded, you could end up as the shortest term prime minister. What a pity that would be, don’t you think?

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