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LETTER | Zuraida should be allowed to complete her ministerial term

LETTER | There are latest reports that Zuraida Kamaruddin will be retained as a minister. Her former party Bersatu does not seem keen on removing her. Even the party recognises her contributions and stature.

It was reported earlier that Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin will be meeting the prime minister on her ministerial position and rumours were rife that there was a possibility that Zuraida would have to make for the exit any time now.

The prime minister does not seem to feel it is an urgent matter. Many a minister who feels that he or she will be replaced soon would normally maintain a low profile. However, this is not the case with the feisty and energetic Zuraida, who is working feverishly as always as can be seen from her recent statements.

She even asked the US customs to release Malaysian products and not impound them indefinitely. Malaysia needs a vocal minister like her to represent the country, with some even touting her as the “Iron Lady”.

With calls for a general election soon gaining momentum, it is hoped that Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob will not replace Zuraida as plantation industries and commodities minister before the tenure of the government expires in September 2023 or before elections were called. 

Zuraida holds an important post as various commodities like palm oil and rubber are experiencing a lot of volatility due to the Russian-Ukraine war. Malaysia needs an experienced hands-on-the-job minister who is capable of handling this important portfolio at this crucial time.

Zuraida has within a short time shown her competency and ability to manage the ministry well. She is championing the cause for palm oil like no one else before her, in various forums, and has positively and pro-actively engaged with various NGOs and others to put forward a strong position for the cause of palm oil being accepted worldwide.

With the price of palm oil at an all-time high, there is a need to look into the various needs of the plantations industry, especially in increasing the windfall tax, the welfare of oil palm smallholders, the shortage of foreign workers needed to harvest the crops, exploitation of plantation workers that leads to problems with foreign governments and manufacturers, the need to heed the inputs and criticisms of the pro-environment lobby both locally and internationally and other related issues. 

Previously, when Zuraida was the housing and local government minister, she was championing the cause for local government elections, which, unfortunately, Dr Mahathir Mohamad brushed aside as unnecessary and which could lead to racial tensions.

If she had had her way, the country would have seen municipal polls, the last of which was held in 1965. Local government elections will democratise the third tier of government and make local government more proactive and effective, and give ratepayers a voice in the governance of the local authorities. She was very much concerned about the issue of abandoned housing projects and various issues affecting both developers and house buyers.

She is one lady who can immerse herself in any ministerial portfolio and do excellently. I have observed her ministerial capability and competency in both the ministries that she had helmed. 

She will be an asset to Ismail Sabri’s cabinet and it is hoped that he will not dismiss her, considering her capabilities, and due to the fact that there are only a few months left before an election.

Changing horses mid-stream, especially in an important ministry that rakes in tens of billions of ringgit annually through exports could have a destabilising effect. The ministry is too crucial at the present time to be left in the hands of an inexperienced newcomer.

Zuraida has a multi-racial outlook, is a dynamic person, and will positively contribute to any party or cause that she champions. She is without doubt the most vocal and transformative of women political leaders at present in the country who has a bright future.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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