Three thoughts on the prime minister's slogan

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Dear Mr Prime Minister,

Let me firstly congratulate you on your appointment as prime minister of Malaysia. I will be the first to admit that it is an accomplishment for anybody to attain the office of prime minister of any country, let alone Malaysia. I will also be the first to admit that I was rather impressed by your slogan of ‘1 Malaysia. People First. Performance Now.' This is, in fact, what has prompted me to write this letter

Allow me to share with you, Mr Prime Minister, what your slogan and your actions in the last few days mean to me and I would believe a vast number of other Malaysians.

Firstly, ‘1 Malaysia'.

A very impressive start indeed! As a Malaysian, born and bred in this country, it was refreshing to hear this simply because I firmly believe that this country is for all Malaysians - regardless of their ethnic background.

We truly need to move beyond the traditional classification of race and accept each other for what we really are - Malaysians. My passport says I am Malaysian. My identity card says I am Malaysian. So why am I asked to fill out my race in every form that is put before me?

Mr. Prime Minister, if you are truly serious about the concept of ‘1 Malaysia', then let's see the field ‘race' or ‘bangsa' removed from all government forms, all bank application forms, in fact from every form that exists.

Surely, if for whatever reason, the race or ethnic background of someone still needs to be ascertained, this can be done so from our names.

Perception is a key in human behavior and relations and the first step to achieving ‘1 Malaysia' is for Malaysians to feel that they are Malaysians first. Getting rid of the race classification will be a major step in this direction.

Secondly, ‘People First'.

Sadly, Mr Prime Minister, the selection of your cabinet members does not seem to put people first. Abraham Lincoln first extolled the virtues of a democratic government by espousing a government ‘of the people, by the people, for the people'.

By selecting cabinet ministers who did not get elected by the people, you have not put the people of Malaysia first. It is inconceivable to me that we could have as ministers politicians that were so clearly rejected at the ballot box.

Do the people no longer have a say in the government? How is the general public supposed to respect the government of the day when it has in its composition ministers that failed to command the respect of the voting public at the ballot box?

I strongly feel that a minister or deputy minister must be someone that is an elected representative.

The message you are sending to Malaysians, Mr Prime Minister, is that the cabinet does not have to consist of an elected representative and that means that the power given to the people at the ballot box is substantially diluted.

With all due respect, I believe an effective government is one that listens to the wishes of the people. It is time to listen to the people.

Finally, ‘Performance Now'.

Again, Mr Prime Minister, I return to your selection of your cabinet. I respectfully feel that you are sending the wrong message to Malaysians with your appointment of 40 deputy ministers. Why do certain ministries require two deputy ministers?

Would it not be more prudent, especially in this time of economic uncertainty, to have just one deputy minister? While most companies worldwide are reducing costs and retrenching staff, we instead opt to have two deputy ministers when certainly one would suffice.

Can you imagine if every one of our Malaysian companies had two deputy chief executive officers? What is the purpose of having two deputy ministers? Does this not breed incompetence and a lack of productivity?

Do you want to send the message to the younger generation that Malaysia needs two people to do the work of one?

On the other hand, I support and applaud the setting up of Key Performance Indicators for your cabinet. Most corporate companies judge their employees with the use of KPIs and I feel the cabinet should be no different.

Mr Prime Minister, once again I must say that your slogan of ‘1 Malaysia. People First. Performance Now' is indeed very impressive and engaging. I can only hope that it will bear fruition. I wish you all the best for the future.

I remain, as always, Anak Bangsa Malaysia.

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