Malaysia Dateline

It takes guts to be a good minister

Azmi hassan 2 To survive in politics, you need guts since critical decisions need to be made in real time without much time to spare. But decision made out of one instinct without taking into consideration of facts surrounding it will spell disaster.

UK law maker Boris Johnson one of the front contender for the Conservative leadership’s tussle last year accused Prime Minister Theresa May lacked guts when dealing the Brexit issue with Brussels and said that US President Donald Trump could do a better job.
Trump is well known for his gut feeling in making important decision and weather Trump’s gut is correct or otherwise is very debatable. Before meeting the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore last year, Trump reiterated that his gut feeling telling him that something good will arise from the meeting and it proved how wrong is his instinct in this particular case.

Back home there has been accusation that Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad cabinet members are slow in formulating meaningful policies and seemed to be hesitant in making decisions that are critical and sensitive.

And maybe this is one of the reason why Dr. Mahathir graded a 5 out of maximum 10 on his cabinet performance for the past year. No doubt that majority of the ministers are new to the job and hence lack the needed guts when helming their respective ministries but these ministers (and their deputies too) are considered seasoned politicians and therefore it is quite puzzled that the ministers refused to undertake some risks when rolling out policies.

But it’s interesting to note that Minister of Energy, Technology, Science, Climate Change, and Environment (Mestecc) Yeo Bee Yin, considered as greenhorn in politics but the first time minister has demonstrated that she has the capability needed, and this include gut making decision, to helm the ministry. Yeo in one instance reiterated that as part of Paris Agreement that was inked in 2015, Malaysia is committed to reduce 45% of our carbon emission intensity by 2030.

Yeo said that Malaysia is on track to fulfil the Paris Agreement terms and surprisingly she insisted that Kuala Lumpur want to do more than what was stipulated in the agreement. It is a strong statement indeed because it will affect the bottom line of businesses that are based in Malaysia. Now Yeo statement is full of guts not that it is said in intuition but based on what’s happening on the ground.

Another brave and much appreciated decision made by Yeo is that her ministry is committed to the RE100 initiative that will allow companies to receive tax incentives if they commit to be part of the RE100 program which is a global initiative that has corporations commit to use 100% renewable energy in particular their electricity usage.

When Yeo said that her ministry was expecting 20 per cent of the country’s energy to be generated from renewable sources by 2025 and has roll out a total of 73 initiatives for the last 10 months to this effect, the statement is regarded as a very lofty idea since the current renewable energy usage stands at mere 5 percent level. It is indeed a brave statement but again the 20 percent target is part of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) election manifesto and being a responsible politician, a promise is still a promise even how difficult is to fulfil.

It is hoped that other minsters take cue on how Yeo run her ministry not only to fulfil PH election manifesto but also has shown leadership qualities for the good of the country. The civil servants serving Mestecc possessed vast experienced and related expertise as accorded in Mestecc portfolio.

What they need is a vision from the minister and this include all ministries so that the civil servants can formulate the appropriate policies. This is where guts are needed so that ministers are capable of making difficult decisions and willing to face of negative comments or brickbats. This is part and parcel of their job as a politician and also a minister.