Collective cabinet responsibility vital, says analysts


Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

KUALA LUMPUR – June 2, 2015: The concept of collective cabinet responsibility is vital for a government to function and therefore those who refuse to observe it should be obliged to resign their post, says political analysts.

In light of the reported ultimatum by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for members of his cabinet to choose either to fully support the handling of the 1MDB issue or resign, the analysts agreed that it was the appropriate step to ensure the smooth running of the administration.

Universiti Utara Malaysia’s political analyst Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani explained that as cabinet members, they are obligated to agree and support all governmental decisions, “even if they do not agree to it personally, hence the term collective cabinet responsibility”.

“But that does not mean, the decisions made by the Cabinet is irreversible. If the prior decision is deemed inefficient over time, then the Cabinet members can review the previous decisions and make new decisions on the directives.

“Regardless whether they agree to implement or discard the governmental decisions, it must be done via a consensus,” he said.

Another political analyst, Professor Datuk Dr Sulaiman Md Yassin of Universiti Putra Malaysia said that due to the nature of the Cabinet, its members who strongly oppose any governmental decision would have no option but to resign from their post.

“Cabinet members, especially those who holds ministerial post should remember that it was him (Najib) who appointed them, so morally if you are unable to see eye to eye with your appointee, then the most democratic solution is to resign,” said Sulaiman.

However, Sulaiman told The MOLE that in regards to the 1MDB issue, the appointment of Najib as advisor of the strategic development corporation was a risky move.

“The way I see it, his (Najib) appointment as the advisor of 1MDB has caused unnecessary governance complication.

“Because aside from being the advisor of 1MDB, he is also the Finance Minister, the leader of our Cabinet and our Prime Minister which could easily spark conflict of interests whenever a collective decision needs to be made,” said Sulaiman.

Utusan Malaysia and prominent blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin reported yesterday that Najib had given the ultimatum to his cabinet members last Friday.

However, Culture and Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz was later quoted by a news portal as denying that Najib had issued such ultimatum.

“PM said this at the meeting: ‘if somehow, some of you feel uncomfortable with this, please hand in or write (your resignation), and I will understand,” said Nazri.

However, prominent anonymous blogger Jebat Must Die, argued that Nazri had actually tried to tone down the reports of what had transpired during the Cabinet meeting.

“From the words that came out from Nazri Aziz’s mouth, it was indeed sounded like an ultimatum,” he said.

In another development, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had twitted, “Agree (with the ultimatum) with conditions 1) rationalisation of 1MDB, 2) accountability if there is wrongdoing, and 3), transparency on (conditions 1 and 2).”

This prompted Raja Petra to speculate that Hishammuddin, who is an Umno vice-president and a cousin of Najib will have to resign from his Cabinet post as he appeared to be no longer supportive of Najib.

Prominent blogger Datuk Ahirudin Attan in his blog posting, “Do you believe RPK?” concurred that the conditional support for Najib, as voiced by Hishammuddin had put him in  “a bit of a spot”.

“One obeserver says it’s as if Hisham is hedging. He could have spoken up and spelled out those conditions during the Cabinet meeting but he did not. Why?”, Ahirudin wrote.



About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at [email protected]