Cabinet & Parliamentary Rebalancing (Part 2): The tangled mass

Is our Cabinet over-crowded, resulting in bamboozling and clutter? REFSA explains in its latest focus paper.

The more the messier. Researchers have found that performance of national governments declines as Cabinets grow larger. Parkinson of Parkinson’s Law fame noted that it is critical for Cabinets to have less than 21 ministers if decision-making is to be efficient.

Our government shamelessly defies the ‘law’ with a whopping 30 ministers and 38 deputies. We ordinary citizens pay the price for its ‘disobedience’. A recent example is the AES (Automated Enforcement System) fiasco. The Transport Ministry installed cameras to catch speedsters on the road. Quite incredibly, though, it had obviously not consulted the Home Ministry, because the traffic cops said they would continue to run their own speed-trap operations – including at locations near the AES cameras. An even bigger farce broke out when the Attorney-General ended up freezing AES summons trials due to questions on its legality. When government ministers and agencies collide, more taxpayers’ funds would have to be wasted to sort out the disarray.

How can our government not turn into a circus of chaos when the Prime Minister alone juggles “more than 28 Cabinet committees”? There are so many Cabinet committees that even Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong had to admit that he can’t count them all. And the Cabinet mess is such that even a simple matter like traffic enforcement gets jammed.

There is hope for us if the government slims down – if our bloated Cabinet can be trimmed to a svelte 16 ministries and 18 ministers, communication and cross-disciplinary cooperation can be better facilitated for the benefit of Malaysians.

[Image source: Scales – darktaco/]

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REFSA is an independent, not-for-profit research institute providing relevant and reliable information on social, economic and political issues affecting Malaysians with the aim of promoting open and constructive discussions that result in effective policies to address those issues. Visit us at

Posted on 26 February 2013. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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