‘Freshie’ ministers still learning on the job - Mat Sabu

Annabelle Lee

Modified 16 Feb 2019, 4:59 pm

Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu has pleaded for the rakyat to be patient towards Pakatan Harapan ministers.

Speaking at the Democracy Festival 2019 in Kuala Lumpur today, Mohamad pointed out that many of his fellow cabinet members had no prior experience in governance, and that they are learning on the job.

“Let me be honest with you, (in) the new government of Malaysia, the majority of the ministers are all freshies.

“They were, less than a year ago, either 'street fighters' or members of the opposition in Parliament. They neither have the experience of governing, nor the ability to fully manage an administration.

“But we are not worried. We are learning how to fight through war (kita belajar perang melalui perang). We are learning every day, and we will never surrender," he said.

Mohamad, himself a first-time minister, added that defending Harapan’s win in the 14th general election was an “important but complicated” undertaking.

However, he stressed the importance of translating regime change to material change for the people the ground.

“Democracy is not just a concept, but also needs to experienced by the rank and file, Mr and Mrs Ordinary, the makcik and pakcik. Or else democracy is just Greek to them.

“Democracy will not mean anything to the rakyat if (Harapan’s) win on May 9 does not bring any changes to their lives,” he said.

Read more: Sabahan activists stage silent demo during PM’s speech

Held at the Publika Shopping Gallery, the Democracy Festival festival was organised to formally launch human rights NGO Forces of Renewal Southeast Asia (Forsea).

Forsea’s board members include activist Hishamuddin Rais, Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown and exiled Singaporean activist and lawyer Tan Wah Piow.

The NGO believes in working with communities from Southeast Asian nations to struggle for democratic social change in the region.

Among those in attendance were Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari, Ketari assemblyperson Young Syefura Othman, Balakong assemblyperson Wong Siew Ki, and Bandar Utama assemblyperson Jamaliah Jamaluddin.

Many notable NGO leaders and academics were also present, including Bersih chairperson Thomas Fann, Penang Institute’s Wong Chin Huat, national laureate A Samad Said, as well as Lawyers for Liberty’s Eric Paulsen and Latheefa Koya.  

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