The irony of a Putrajaya special adviser asking to plug leakage

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HOW many ministers and special advisers does it take to run a country? – The Malaysian Insider file pic, October 27, 2014.How many ministers and special advisers does it take to run a country? – The Malaysian Insider file pic, October 27, 2014.“Plugging leakage is one of the measures that can save Malaysia Airlines, even as the airline prepares for a milestone extraordinary general meeting (EGM) for minority shareholders on November 6,” says Tan Sri M. Kayveas, special adviser to the transport minister.

“The system now gives too many privileges to people who have been there too long. These leakage and privileges make MAS unprofitable," said Kayveas who is also president of the People's Progressive Party (PPP)."

The Bernama state news agency reported this yesterday, but left out the irony that another losing Barisan Nasional (BN) party leader has the cushy job of being a special adviser.

To be fair to Kayveas, he was appointed to the post in January, when Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein was the acting transport minister. But there is a full-time minister now in Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, the MCA president.

Kayveas is the second known special adviser in the Najib administration, which boasts 35 ministers. The other is Wanita Umno chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, who is special adviser to the PM on women and social development affairs.

Really, how many ministers and special advisers does Putrajaya need to run Malaysia? And how much does it cost to maintain all these ministers, deputy ministers and special advisers?

There are 10 ministers in the Prime Minister's Department, and one at least says the job includes being postman for the Attorney-General because he cannot do that himself.

If a minister is already reduced being to a messenger, what role do these advisers play? What is their job? Is there a key performance indicator for advisers?

Speaking of which, when was the last time all ministers and advisers were audited by Datuk Seri Idris Jala's team, or is that a thing of the past just as 1Malaysia seems to be?

And what expertise and experience does Kayveas bring to the post as adviser on transport matters? It can be argued that Shahrizat was the minister on women's affairs, but what about Kayveas?

The only transport-related experience he has was being a Malaysia Airlines steward who later studied to be a lawyer. Perhaps he is speaking from that point of view?

Yet, one wonders about the need for special advisers – who are all from BN parties. Is this a gravy train or can Putrajaya do better and get experts and technocrats to provide expertise?

Putrajaya needs to look into this matter especially after cutting subsidies for fuel, ironically when global oil prices are already low, ostensibly to cut costs and give direct aid to the needy.

Does that include appointing advisers and having ministers who do not appear to have much to do?

The other side of the political divide is no better. The Pakatan Rakyat Selangor government has Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as its economic adviser from Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim's time as menteri besar.

He is still adviser today under Mohamed Azmin Ali's administration, with his only credentials being a former finance minister. Does he or his officers get paid? And what value do they contribute to Selangor?

The thing is, anyone can say plug the leakage. But what is required is to actually plug the leakage.

One way to start is to reduce the number of political appointees and just get the job done with fewer people. We cannot have a government that practises "Do as I say, not as I do" on both sides of the political divide. – October 27, 2014, The Malaysian Insider