Ministers, their deputies, menteris besar and chief ministers must not depend on Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to defend them if they want the Pakatan Harapan government to exist beyond a single term, said veteran newsman A Kadir Jasin.
“(They) should not feel happy or thump their chests when he (Mahathir) has to give all kinds of excuses to defend and protect them. They must prove they are not clowns by heeding the prime minister’s advice,” he added in a blog posting today.
Kadir, who is also the special media advisor to the prime minister, was writing in his personal capacity.
He said it is unfair for Mahathir to defend them when they do not work on improving themselves.
“They should collectively and effectively defend the government and not force the prime minister to defend them instead,” he added.
Zooming in on the conduct of ministers in relation to site visits, Kadir highlighted Mahathir’s advice to ministers to “micro-manage.”
“Among the complaints we often hear is that Harapan ministers, deputy ministers, menteris besar and chief ministers do not go to the ground often enough to visit projects or meet the people.
“I’ve seen how some of them feel awkward when meeting the people. Some appear as if they want to be surrounded by officers and bodyguards so they can avoid listening to the plight of the people.
“If they only want to be welcomed and celebrated by officers and bodyguards so that they look good on television, newspapers and social media, then don’t bother wasting the government’s money by going to the ground,” he added.
On the contrary, Kadir said Mahathir is known for making surprise visits without being escorted by numerous officers or security personnel.
“This is Mahathir’s way. That is why we often see him driving himself, particularly on weekends, to see and observe various places and matters that attract his attention or require his attention.
“Stories of his surprise visits keep public servants, private sector executives and contractors on their toes. This was what happened during the construction of the Petronas Twin Towers, KLIA and many other key projects,” he added.
‘Small actions that anger the people’
Kadir also criticised ministers who often uploaded photographs of themselves with their officers doing “freestyle” stunts, calling it “childish”.
He also advised press secretaries to Harapan leaders who have no training in communications and journalism not to be arrogant and to mingle more with journalists and learn from them.
“Remember, you play an important role if your boss gets good or bad press, particularly as we approach the one year anniversary of the Harapan government on May 9,” he said.
Kadir said sometimes even the smallest of things can infuriate the people such as travelling with police outriders with sirens blaring when others are trapped in traffic gridlock.
“For those who don’t have police escorts, please don’t put on your blue strobe lights. You will only annoy people. It is better to suffer some inconvenience than to be scolded by the people,” he added.
Kadir said government leaders must also win the confidence of the civil service.
“Win their hearts and gain their confidence. It may take time as they have only known the BN government and have become accustomed to it.
“The prime minister does not want ministers, deputy ministers, menteris besar or chief ministers to form a government within a government by bringing in their friends and sidelining civil servants,” he added.
At the same time, Kadir said civil servants must also learn to work with the new government and action must be taken against those who attempt to sabotage the present administration. – Malaysiakini