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Appointing polls losers to govt posts is troubling, says analyst – Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: The appointment of defeated general election candidates as ministers and deputy ministers is a troubling practice since most were without merit, says political analyst Azmi Hassan.
Azmi, who is with Akademi Nusantara, said it was acceptable to make them just senators since the upper house of Parliament had always been used to reward leaders for supporting their parties.
“But I do think that it is quite troubling in the case of the recent appointments of Cabinet ministers and deputies. This is because out of the six who were made senators and appointed to government posts, only one was based on his expertise.
“That was religious affairs minister Na’im Mokhtar. The other five were appointed based on their political affiliations,” he told FMT.

Na’im was the Chief Shariah Judge of Malaysia. The others had been defeated as parliamentary candidates at last month’s general election.
Saifuddin Nasution Ismail of PKR, and Zambry Abdul Kadir and Tengku Zafrul Aziz of Umno were appointed as ministers, while K Saraswathy and Fuziah Salleh of PKR were appointed as deputy ministers.
Saifuddin is the PKR secretary-general while K Saraswathy is an appointed vice-president of the party. Zambry is the Barisan Nasional secretary-general.
All seven were appointed as senators, enabling them to become ministers or deputy ministers.
Azmi said the offer of senatorship should only be used to attract professionals and technocrats into the government and not provide a “back door” entry for losers.
When asked whether the Senate should be reformed to put an end to the appointment of election losers or rewarding party leaders, Azmi agreed saying election of senators will make the upper house more effective.
Political scientist Wong Chin Huat of Sunway University agreed with the call for a fully elected Senate.
He also suggested that Sabah and Sarawak be each given one-sixth of the seats to form a veto bloc.
Chin also suggested the introduction of proportional representation at the general election to accommodate professionals and sectoral representatives who may not be able to win elections on their personal merit.
He said a “closed list” method of proportional representation would allow voters to choose among the contending parties, with senatorial seats allocated among the parties based on their vote share.
“This is much better than appointing losing candidates or unelected technocrats to the administration. The current practice conveniences the parties but weakens democracy and the legitimacy of the administration,” he added.
Azmil Tayeb of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) said an appointed Senate allowed marginalised groups such as women and ethnic minorities to have representation, as they might find it difficult to get elected otherwise.
Azmil added that appointing election losers into government through senatorship is not troubling as long as the appointees are fully qualified for the portfolio.
“Other than that, it’s seen as a form of patronage politics and an effort to consolidate power,” he said. “In the case of Malaysia, senate appointments have always been used as part of patronage politics to reward allies and consolidate the prime minister’s power in the government.”
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