Liow should demand a seat in the real cabinet – the Economic Council

Malaysia Economy (EN)

Media statement by DAP National Political Education Director and MP for Kluang on 28th June 2014 in Johor Bahru

Very few people understand how strange and weird the Malaysian Cabinet structure is. The economy is the most important part of modern governance – in fact, the real issues – yet the Malaysian Cabinet has almost no role in the deliberation of the economy.

In view of MCA and Gerakan’s “grand entry/return” to the Cabinet, one of the earliest actions Liow Tiong Lai must pursue is to demand a seat in the real Cabinet – the Economic Council. Likewise, leaders of Gerakan, MIC, PBB, PBS, PBRS, PRS, SUPP and UPKO should also demand a say in economic matters.

The long term solution is for Prime Minister Najib Razak to adopt the suggestion of DAP Parliamentary Leader Lim Kit Siang to create a 20-person Cabinet to govern collectively on all matters, economic matters included. The rest of the junior ministers will report to the Cabinet ministers.

According to the website of the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) on 3rd January 2014, the members of the Economic Council are

1. YAB Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Abdul Razak – Chairman
Prime Minister of Malaysia

2. YAB Tan Sri Dato’ Haji Muhyiddin Mohd. Yassin
Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia

3. YB Senator Dato’ Sri Abdul Wahid bin Omar
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department

4. YB Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed
Minister of International Trade and Industry

5. YB Dato’ Seri Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah
Minister of Finance II

6. YB Senator Dato’ Sri Idris Jala
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department/CEO of PEMANDU

7. YBhg. Tan Sri Dr. Ali Hamsa
Chief Secretary to the Government of Malaysia

8. YBhg. Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz
Governor, Bank Negara Malaysia

9. YBhg. Tan Sri Dr. Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah
Secretary-General of Treasury

10. YBhg. Datuk Dr. Rahamat Bivi Yusoff
Director-General, Economic Planning Unit, Prime Minister’s Department

11. YBhg. Tan Sri Datuk Yong Poh Kon

12. Encik Nik Azman Nik Abdul Majid – Secretary
Head of Economic Council Secretariat‎

The Economic Council (EC) was first established on 30 July 2008 to deal with the massive negative impact of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi’s ill-advised 4th June 2008 40-percent fuel hike.

On 26 May 2009, the then newly installed Prime Minister Najib expanded the role of the Council to further absorb the following Councils/Cabinet Committees into the Economic Council:

1. National Implementation Task Force (NITF);
2. Cabinet Committee on National Competitiveness;
3. Cabinet Committee to Study the Impact of Rising Petroleum Prices on the Economy;
4. National Price Council;
5. Inflation Control Council:
6. Cabinet Committee on Investment; and
7. Cabinet Committee on Public Transportation

Today, most major economic decisions are made at the Economic Council, which usually meets on Monday, with Cabinet “rubber-stamping” the EC decisions on its Wednesday meetings. The Cabinet no longer deliberates on economic matters.

In November 2010, after I raised the issue, the then MCA president Chua SoiLek was appointed into the Economic Council. I expect Liow to demand a seat in the real Cabinet – the Economic Council.

But for the long-term good of the nation, all key political leaders in the governing coalition from Gerakan, MIC, PBB, PBS, PBRS, PRS, SUPP and UPKO should all be included in the deliberation of economic matters at the Cabinet level. It’s time for the Prime Minister to reorganise the Cabinet to include all voices in the deliberations of the real issues.

Liew Chin Tong

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