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Need for a shadow cabinet

  • The PH government should provide financial allocations to support the effective operation of the shadow cabinet. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily

Sin Chew Daily

Four months after the curtain fell on the May 9 general elections, the opposition has finally come up with a shadow cabinet with BN members of parliament and defeated candidates responsible for various committees to monitor the government.

This is a positive development in the country's democratic politics, showing that our political culture has indeed become increasingly matured and the checks and balances mechanism is gradually taking shape,.

We inherited our political system from the British Westminster, but unfortunately for all these years we have failed to have a Westminster-style shadow cabinet in place.

In the shadow cabinet headed by Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, former defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein and his two colleagues will be tasked with overseeing the operation of the defence ministry, while former deputy foreign minister Reezal Merican heads the committee on foreign affairs, and former tourism minster Mohamed Nazri Aziz will oversee the tourism, arts and culture portfolio.

To be honest, this shadow cabinet is a boon to the country's political development. Following the establishment of the shadow cabinet, the opposition will be able to more professionally oversee the operation of the new government.

In the past, debates at parliamentary sittings left much to be desired and were utterly unprofessional. Under the framework of such a shadow cabinet, it is believed that the debate standard in the parliament will be substantially boosted because we will have specific opposition reps to take charge of certain areas and voice up constructive views accordingly.

In addition, the shadow cabinet can also act as a "preparatory cabinet" to prepare the opposition to take over the reins in future.

Through such a shadow cabinet, selected opposition reps will have to keep themselves abreast of the latest information and developments pertaining to a specific area so that they can assume their ministerial responsibilities to ensure smooth transition in the event of a change in federal administration.

In many countries, most of the new cabinet members will come from the shadow government in a change of regime.

The existence of a shadow cabinet also serves to highlight the notion of political freedom, that no government is irreplaceable and that the voters are free to choose.

The establishment of a shadow cabinet by the BN marks a good beginning. It is hoped that the shadow cabinet will play its role effectively to oversee the government operation in the days to come, not just a hollow structure set up for the sake of setting up.

In the meantime, Pakatan Harapan as the ruling coalition is obliged to help consolidate the shadow cabinet system so that it can become part and parcel of our political system.

Besides allowing the establishment of such a shadow cabinet, perhaps the PH government should also provide financial allocations to support its effective operation, as suggested by former Umno Youth chairman Khairy Jamaluddin who is tasked with overseeing the operation of the finance ministry. Hopefully PH will seriously look into this matter.

We have to stress that providing financial allocations to the shadow cabinet is not meant to crush the government's own leg by financing the shadow cabinet. In its stead, it is meant to create an effective checks and balances system towards more matured democratic politics.

 

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