MANY still think that when we went to vote on May 9 2018, it was to vote in a government for the people by the people based on the political party the majority of whom had won the people’s confidence.
This is due to the Alliance, and subsequently Barisan Nasional, being in power virtually unchallenged for 61 years, with two-thirds majority for the most part of it.
Three prime ministers later we know that that is not entirely true – that we voted in individuals no matter the party, those whom we think would be best to represent us in His Majesty’s government.
This government administers the nation on behalf of His Majesty, and leading its members is the Member of Parliament who has the greatest support, a constitutional concept that had become alien because of BN’s past political dominance.
It may not be the government that some voters want. It may not be the perfect government. Neither side of the political fence wants this government to work, and Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri is not the choice of PM that his own party would like to have.
But this is the government that has the confidence of His Majesty, and this isthe face of the future for as long as no one political coalition has two-thirds majority in Parliament.
We can see who have been working in Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri’s administration, who have been shadow playing, and who are the deadbeats.
Only two have caught my eye. They are, to me, those who work for the Keluarga Malaysia concept.
Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin
This former Umno minister is seen by his former party as a traitor for jumpingship seven months after the BN administration fell. Datuk Seri Hamzah did not hold any ministerial post during the Pakatan Harapan administration.
He was made the Home Affairs Minister during the Muhyiddin Yassin administration and has continued holding this portfolio since.
Apart from the episode with former IGP Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador, there is very little noise regarding Hamzah. From the Muhyiddin administration Hamzah is seen doing his job as the Home Affairs Minister, even taking a different route compared to his predecessors.
For instance, working hand-in-hand with Human Resource Minister Datuk Seri M Saravanan, Hamzah has done away with the need for third-party involvement in legalising illegal immigrants for selected industries. This greatly reduces corrupt acts involved in the process of registering these workers as we have seen in the past.
His penchant for “seeing things for himself” has allowed him to assist government agencies and departments under his Ministry in providing the best of services directly to the people.
Immediately after the landslide tragedy in Yan, Kedah last year, as well as after the recent floods, he urged the Royal
Malaysian Police, the National Registration Department, as well as the Immigration Department to deploy their mobile police station and counters to enable victims who have lost their personal documents to make police reports and obtain new personal documents without having to travel tens of miles to get things done. And these services were provided for free for the victims. Such initiatives augured well with the people.
Interesting to note is that when he went to visit victims to present aid, he did not drown himself in self-promotion exercise like other politicians would.
Instead, he chose to portray himself as representing the Prime Minister and the Keluarga Malaysia initiative. What this demonstrates is his political maturity in putting aside political and party differences in order to fulfil his duty as a Minister in His Majesty’s Government, chosen by a Prime Minister who is from a different political coalition.
Hamzah may be the Secretary-General for Bersatu and Perikatan Nasional, but I view him as a strategist who knows when to fight it out when needed so, but also when to put self-political interest aside to make sure that the government that he is a part of, truly works for the people.
Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar
Many would disagree with me over this choice, especially those in Umno who see him as one of those who was against Datuk Seri Najib Razak before the previous general election. Ten years ago, I would not write this too, but I have to look at things objectively since I do not belong to any political party.
Khairy is seen as ambitious. Those at the top are eager to see his political career end. Even Umno’s No.2 Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan, otherwise known as Tok Mat, has already announced his plan to contest in Khairy’s parliamentary seat of Rembau, leaving the latter with nowhere to go in Negeri Sembilan.
If it is true that Umno is eager to bury Khairy, then the Grand Old Party is just that – grand by resting on its laurels and old; the bitter lessons of GE14 very quickly forgotten. It is a party with 3.35 million members that had failed to hold on to its power in 2018 despite its size – all because it could not read the sentiments on the ground.
When Umno and the Barisan Nasional fell out of favour with the voters, I had expected to see Khairy jump ship. I would have lost some money had I bet on that. Instead, Khairy did not budge. Even as he was ridiculed by those from within his party, Khairy held on and played his role as an Opposition MP. I looked at the Internet to see what people said of him then and immediately knew that many wished Khairy was not from Umno.
Then, Covid-19 hit our shores. A month and a half later the Pakatan Harapan fell and Khairy was made Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation in the Muhyiddin administration. He was tasked with spearheading and managing the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme or PICK, sometime doling out more than half a million doses of vaccines a day nationwide.
He was also spotted at vaccination centres several times helping the volunteers registering vaccine recipients.
As of Jan 19 2022, PICK has fully-vaccinated almost 80 percent of the population and almost 31 percent have received their booster dose.
Now as the Health Minister in the Ismail Sabri administration, Khairy goes down to government hospitals and clinics unannounced to see for himself the problems health front-liners face on a daily basis, especially situations exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Not only that, he also faces the public every now and then, and allow them to vent out at him.
Again, praises from the normal Janes and Joes drown noises made by detractors – those from within his own party, and the anti-vaxxers. Even so, Khairy continues to soldier on undistracted. His record speaks for himself. As at Jan 20 2022, the death rate in Malaysia compared to unvaccinated people is 25 times lower for those fully vaccinated and 148 times lower for those who have received their booster dose. Now in a true Keluarga Malaysia style, Khairy is concentrating on vaccinating children between the age of five and 12.
Umno has to realise that it is not going to be party members that will win them the next general election, but the support of the ordinary voters who vote based on what they now like in a candidate rather than the party symbols that the candidate represent.
Both Hamzah and Khairy are politicians who work for the people that you would wish to see more of in the future, instead of going back to what was before. My only wish is that all the ministers that we have now are of the same calibre.
(This article first appeared on The Mole )