Politics in general

Is Syed Hamid Albar the Minister of Transport?

Currently there are 30 ministers and 27 deputy ministers in the cabinet handling about 24 ministries. The information can be obtained in the website of the Prime Minister’s Office.

We rued the chance of having a smaller number of ministers as bigger number doesn’t necessarily mean better quality of governmental’s performance.

In fact for the past 10 years, the quality of ministers has greatly diminished. They are now being reduced to become clowns and ridiculed whenever announcements are made.

This of course, due to the failure of communications teams as well as having limited intelligence in public relation skills vis-a vis in dealing with all media interactions.

But recently, we are overwhelmed with a new phenomenon.

This phenomenon is called – “Advisors with ministerial status”.

They are advisors who are also ministers, or in other words, they are ministers but with no ministry to govern except for giving advice directly to the Prime Minister.

We have lots of those recently.

However we would like to point out that it is not something new.

Previous Prime Ministers from the first to the fourth have appointed advisors in official status. For instance, Tun Dr. Mahathir had among others, a science advisor, a religious advisor and economic advisor during his premiership.

But these advisors did not hold ministerial status.

It seems we can have two sets of cabinet ministers; the real ministers, and the false ministers. So which directive should the civil servants obey?

After a long arduous task of justifying the benefit of having these ‘ministerial advisers’, we can conclude that they serve no purpose at all other than denting a few more million ringgit to the national coffers for the next 5 years. Certainly their existence is not practical at all.

But these are not the worst of the lot. The worst of the lot would be non-executive chairmans who are behaving like ministers.

Take for instance, Syed Hamid Albar.

He is just a NON-EXECUTIVE Chairman of Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awan Darat (SPAD) but often times, he is calling the shots and making announcements.

If the announcements are done with due care for the government, then it shouldn’t be a problem. But more often than not, he seemed to jumped the gun and bypassed even the Ministry of Transport when trying to promote himself.

We would like to remind Syed Hamid Albar that his position as NON-EXECUTIVE Chairman is sort of a golden handshake package for his service as politician and minister for the past dozens of years.

It is certainly not a launchpad to re-start his career in politics!

So when Syed Hamid Albar announced that there will be a review in public transportation fares by implying that there could be a price hike, he had not only deliver anxiety to the public, but had ultimately deliver another blow to the government’s public perception.

With so many impending price hikes – electricity, tolls (this is still under review) and the previous hike in petrol and sugar prices, did Syed Hamid Albar think he is giving the government a favour by throwing this curve ball?

Sometimes the best policy is to keep quiet until the matter is fully confirmed. Certainly announcing a price sensitive issue like this will create panic and more dissatisfaction among the public towards the government. And it’s just regarding a ‘review’?

Did he divulge to us about the deadline of this review? Will the outcome of this review be known next week? Or would it be next month? Or end of next year?

What if after all the study has been done, it is recommended that there shouldn’t be any price hike? Wouldn’t all this anxiety and negative public perception be unnecessary and premature?

When even the boss of KTM did not say anything and all other rail operators are looking at getting special rate for electricity usage instead of a price hike in fares (increase in electricity tariffs will increase rail’s operating cost therefore, it is better to get special rate from TNB over the usage to mitigate drastic increase).

Now isn’t that a better solution than telling the public outright that they have to fork out more on fares on top of other things that will be increased?

Even the CEO of SPAD is saying:

“We are currently studying all fare structures in the public transport sector. We will listen. We will study their proposal for a special electricity rate and probably will support it since after all, the public transport companies are providing service to the masses,” he said.

This matter is just one big public relations disaster from Syed Hamid Albar.

We think he should leave the matter to the industry experts.

We still remember how he sent a reporter to jail under the ISA and in justifying the arrest, he cited his infamous reply – “it was for her own safety”. This was during his time as the home minister in 2008.

And we would like to know why he, as a NON-EXECUTIVE Chairman is giving out all the announcements for SPAD all this while? Is he so in dire need of public attention that he has to be at the forefront of everything SPAD-ish?

Maybe Syed Hamid Albar should vacate his position as the NON-EXECUTIVE Chairman of SPAD and demote himself to become its CEO instead. Or better yet, as its Corporate Communications Manager.

Although the Transport Ministry is currently vacant and the position is temporarily filled with Hishamuddin Hussein, we doubt that it will suit him based on the negative perception surrounding his last stint as a minister.

Barisan Nasional could not afford anymore attention seekers in its fold. People can see through the desperation.

24 thoughts on “Is Syed Hamid Albar the Minister of Transport?

  1. “which directive should the civil servants obey”? I think they are not even sure whether to obey PEMANDU, the entity responsible for ensuring the success of the transformation programme. I don’t even know what exactly they do. One even wonders how PEMANDU fits into the Civil Service set up. Are they under the Ketua Setia Usaha Negara (KSN). The Ketua Setia Usaha (KSU) of all Kementerians who usually take instructions from the KSN also takes instructions from Pemandu? How? Thru the KSN? But PEMANDU has its own boss, Idris Jala, who also has the rank of Minister. Anyone knows? Kindly chip in here.

    So, now there are the normal Ministers and the Adviser-Ministers, the normal KSUs and the KSU of PEMANDU? Are they a Ministry headed by a KSU or a Department under the PM’s Dept, headed by a Director General, like the Economic Planning Unit (EPU)?

    At one time, the EPU decided on major projects (e.g privatization projects) in consultation with the PM and/or the Minister of Finance, then the Minister in PM’s Dept (Nor Mohd Yacop) was in charge, and now who decides? Any reader involved with big projects now can throw in a few words here?

    I suspect there has been lethargy in the Civil Service, including at the top, like the PTD, towards the transformation programme. Since the time the NEM somewhat muted the NEP and Najib started his liberalization policies. The Officers have been used to a half century of the conservative line and were startled. Najib had even to choose a PTD Officer lower in seniority to 4-5 others to appoint as KSN. There was a quiet work-to-rule of sorts (I’ll be happy to be proven wrong). Najib then created PEMANDU. One wonders how successful it is.

    So, in the so many ordinary Ministers and adviser-Ministers, PEMANDU and DI-PANDU, Syed Hamid Albar has also appeared as a Minister. Do we have 40 Ministers and 40 Deputy Ministers now? And Rosmah assuming functions of Assistant Prime Minister? Executive jet travel and all. Aiyoyo, Najib.


  2. “In fact for the past 10 years, the quality of ministers has greatly diminished. They are now being reduced to become clowns and ridiculed whenever announcements are made.

    This of course, due to the failure of communications teams as well as having limited intelligence in public relation skills vis-a vis in dealing with all media interactions.”

    Full agree.

    But the PM as “headmaster” needs to share the blame.


    • It’s not just “the failure of communications .. as well as having limited intelligence in public relation skills”. It’s more of having limited intelligence, period. Maybe both at the Minister’s and the PM’s levels.

      Having read a lot about Tun Dr Mahathir and knowing that much about DS Najib, I imagine the way TDM handled cabinet meetings would be different from DSN. As these are just “my own imaginations”, I don’t think they concern the Official Secrets Act. If so, JMD the blog owner, has the discretion to publish this or otherwise.

      TDM expected every Minister to present the facts about their respective Ministries well, not relying on the Secretaries Generals, who would be sitting in a row behind them at cabinet meetings. He expected them to read all the “Cabinet papers” to be tabled at Cabinet meetings – those readied by the Cabinet Secretary cum Chief Secretary to the Government/ his representative and forwarded to the Ministers through their Secretaries General or Ketua Setia Usaha of the Ministries. At the meetings TDM queried the Ministers, grilled them as and when necessary.

      Invariably TDM’s Ministers would have called for a pre-Cabinet Meeting meeting among their Ministry’s staff, have them fully briefed from A to Z about what is being tabled to the Cabinet meeting. By the time of the Meeting, the Minister would be standing up confidently and saying out his piece. A proper and full briefing to the Cabinet before the discussion by the whole Cabinet. And a within-the-Ministry post-Cabinet meeting, to discuss aspects of implementation of what were decided at the Cabinet meetings.

      I’m afraid I can’t imagine the above happening with DSN’s cabinet. If not, why the hell DSN repealed the ISA, EO and RRA one time during Hishamuddin’s tenure as Home Minister, and Ahmad Zahid had to amend the Prevention of Crimes Act to incorporate elements of the repealed enactments, including detention without trial for 2 years, extendable another 2 years recently?

      And DSN’s cabinet apparent inability to use the Ministry of Information’s resources, the Department of Information’s many Officers, Bernama, the national news agency’s “expertise” in the dissemination of news dished out by the Government. More another time.


  3. Creating anonymity, ambiguity, redundancy, uncertainty and suspicion in organisation structure would make the organisation unable to deliver effective positive result. BN with rich experience and long history in running the country should not allow this to happen. A structural deficiency need to be urgently addressed in order to function more effectively in running a country. People should be selected based on their ability to bring result not because of their seniority. It is a Best Organisation to begin with, People first performance Now


    • I think it started from the uncontrolled, unbridled so-called freedom of expression and action (often breaking the Sedition Act) that was not attended to sufficiently since the time of the “flip flopping, auto-piloting and sleepy administration” of Tun Dol. It caused the loss of the 2/3 BN Parliamentary majority and degenerated into a rather confused situation whereby Najib had to resort to all sorts of ways to maintain power that many Malays were unfamiliar and became unhappy about. Including his New Economic Model, economic liberalization measures, financial assistance to Chinese schools etc.

      In the process, he had to depend on the kind of UMNO leaders whose quality has been questioned. Clear examples are Khairy Jamaluddin and Shahrizat – no longer a Minister but carries a Minister status for no rhyme or reason except for the fact that Wanita UMNO had helped ensure Najib wanted to and got a no contest against him at the last party elections.

      Najib has been said by some people to be, or to want to be, a liberal. But I think that’s merely as a political expediency. When he Chinese tsunami happened – after he had bent backwards for the Chinese – he announced billions of Ringgit for the Bumiputera Economic Empowerment measures, maybe even more than what would have been done under NEP, only that it was now to be done under BEE.

      This is simply because he has to, and he does recognize, that the Malays gave him 89 seats and the Bumiputeras of Sabah and Sarawak about 30 seats at PRU13. I believe that no Malay is liberal if he does not recognize the need for leveling the playing field in this country and that the majority votes rest on that. Otherwise, that Malay will only be a pseudo-liberal or “liberal olok olok”.


        • “But I think that’s merely as a political expediency.”

          Yes, I think so. It is never good to be trapped into short-term measures just to stay in power. I think that is Najib’s problem now. He can see a lot of enemies (whether rightly or wrongly); he still has to survive one more umno election before the next GE, and this time the “no contest” agreement may be challenged for both the top 2 posts.

          But the current no.2 will not solve Malaysia’s current problems – he has done a poor job in Education and is not really a thinker or visionary. None of the 3 V-Ps can do it either. I agree about Sharizat & KJ, but how can umno’s basic mentality be changed? It will need a very, very strong personality to clean money politics from the party. Najib does not have that kind of personality.

          Maybe Najib just needs a new set of advisers. The expensive consultants have not delivered well. he also needs to be assertive and show Malaysia that the “flip-flopper” label can be a thing of the past.

          Can perceptions change in 2-3 years? Longer than that, too late already.


          • I disagree that Muhyiddin “has done a poor job in Education and is not really a thinker or visionary.” In fact, to the contrary. He was the one with the guts to make History compulsory in schools – no pass in History, no pass in the entire SPM, like for BM. Despite the objections and the hoo haa by the DAP and like-minded history-resenting blokes.

            Now we can expect the present and future generations of school kids to know the history of the drafting and the approving of the Constitution, and consequently respect it and abide by it. Only then can we hope for mutual understanding among the rakyat and loyalty to the country and patriotism from the citizenry. That in itself shows Muhyiddin is “a thinker or a visionary.”

            Next I want to see Single Stream Schooling be implemented, Chinese schools merged with the Sekolah Kebangsaan. Where all children can mix and study together, develop common interests, shared hopes and aspiration. Then we can expect long-term racial harmony. .


            • Susah lah bro.

              The clear indication is that Malaysia’s education system is spiralling downwards. When Vietnamese kids can beat ours, something is very wrong. Our unis are not in good shape either. The tidak apa response of the chancellor when uitm plunged 100 places in the world uni rankings says it all. Now, I am not saying we should get obsessed with charts and rankings, but these are useful markers. We should not ignore them. The PISA tests alone should set alarm bells ringing. Tapi kita rilek aje.

              Also, Dr M’s plea for the reintroduction of English teaching for some subjects should be heeded. Is Muhyiddin even listening? Bear in mind also we paid 20million to McKinsey for the education blueprint. Yet standards are falling. Doesn’t seem like such a great investment, now.


              • Surely there are countries in ASEAN where our kids are better. Burma of course, Cambodia, Philippines maybe? But they don’t have similar problems as ours, do they? Why must we use them as our barometers?

                Theirs are a homogeneous country, Malaysia is not. They don’t have huge economic and educational disparities between the nearly 70% and the 23% of the population. So, if in accomodating the needs of the 70% whose education has been ignored for 80 years by the Colonial bastards, the standard of our education falls behind a little, so be it.

                The fact remains that a reasonable percentage of the 70% must be given access to higher education that their parents and grandparents did not have since over 100 years ago, that the 23% had. Then we can expect some parity, leveling the playing field, for long-term harmony and peace.


              • I suspect that the perception that Malaysia’s education system is spiralling downwards is a lot due to the Opposition propaganda. Even 2 days ago, Pakatan Rakyat leaders held a news conference asking “an emergency sitting of Parliament” in January ‘to discuss the countrý’s declining education standard.” Even if so, what’s the hurry to have an emergency session, if not its news value and Opposition propaganda?

                Even when a Malaysian teenager Eleasha Chew has been accepted into Harvard University, the news report on it is linked to “the countrý’s declining education standard.”

                The news portal concerned said “in a recent global assessment examination”, Malaysian 15-year-olds were shown to be “trailing far behind” their regional peers in math and science subjects, as well as in reading. But it did not even state what “global assessment examination”, who conducted it, when, where etc.

                It is this kind of propaganda that made some people believe the “declining standard.” Often, university ratings are used to paint a bad picture of the country’s education system. But people forget that there are so many universities in US that are unheard of, even avoided by the Public Services Department (PSD) when sending Malaysian students studying abroad. The same as the lesser known universities in UK.

                The PSD has a panel comprising well qualified and experienced people who evaluate the degree courses of foreign universities constantly.


      • The relevant phrase up there should have been written as follows:

        “except for the fact that Najib wanted, and Wanita UMNO did help ensure, that he get a no contest at the last party elections.”


  4. Najib should never be afraid to step on delicate toes to put his fragile house in order. His “collection” of tainted leaders points to a populist approach. His mistaken notion that lovey dovey camaraderie will inspire loyalty and commitment is as FAULTY as his guiding beliefs as encapsulated in his deficient 1Malaysia slogan.

    Najib should have learnt his bitter lesson, especially after the chinese tsunami that LOVE and FRIENDSHIP is never the cure all for politicians hardened on self-interest and accumulation of earthly wealth.

    His blatant confusion can be discerned in his support for his wife’s Permata project and HIS govt-funded vernacular schools. Both are directly contradictory in nature and essence. Yet he is blissfully oblivious and naively myopic to the ramifications.

    Strange, pathetic and tragic that husband and wife are ostensibly proud of their “achievements” at the height of their hypocrisy.


    • He willingly gave “support for his wife’s Permata project”?

      Was it a case of “Bang, kalau tak kasi your support …”

      I think she needs the project to appear busy and justify use of the executive jet once in a while.

      He needs her to …

      So, Syed Hamid Albar also can appear busy making this and that decision.

      Hence, under Najib, everybody is busy and kelam kabut.


      • Ya, lah. Saya setuju and sokong what is said above. Saya sokong UMNO tapi tak suka Najib and Rosmah. Saya takut cara cara mereka itu bikin Pakatan Rakyat naik at PRU14, jahanamlah kita.


  5. I don’t know dude. I think what Syed Hamid does is throwing caution to the wind. To prepare the public for impending price hike, if there any. You can’t just raise the price overnight. The public will be shocked and simmer. At least he warned first to test the water so the public wouldn’t overreact if it actually happens in the future. Since Hisham is still hospitalized, he is the best candidate to step in and drum it. He has been announcing bits on behalf of MOT since SPAD came into existence and I think the Malaysian public is okay with it. They are familiar with his face, during the good times or bad times. After retirement, he is synonymous with vehicle on Malaysian roads. Should someone else makes an announcement on behalf of MOT, it lacks rigor and credibility. Price hike is a big deal. You don’t send kids to do Men’s work.


    • Doesn’t it appear like lintang pukang, tunggang langgang under Najib?

      He bent backwards for the Chinese. He got the Chinese tsunami. The Chinese didn’t help get as many seats at PRU13 as they got previously. Yet they appeared sombong bongkak – didn’t want to kongsi kuasa and left 2 Ministries without Ministers, those Ministries that are justified having full-ranked Ministers. Like the Ministry of Transport.

      Then Najib appointed Advisers and Like-Ministers. Pemandu this and Pemandu that. Allowed his wife also to run this and that. With funds provided by the government. Not just running Bakti, the association of Ministers and Deputy Ministers’ wives that previous PM’s wives did without any government funding.

      What the heck, man. Najib thinks this country belongs to him? I hope UMNO gets him out before it’s too late for PRU14.


  6. The “two sets of cabinet ministers; the real ministers, and the false ministers … they serve no purpose at all other than denting a few more million ringgit to the national coffers for the next 5 years. Certainly their existence is not practical at all.”

    Not just “a few million ringgit”, bro – the not-so-Minister’s salary, allowances and perks (car driver etc) alone are easily half a million ringgit. The number 2 and 3 fellows in that “department” would already total one million ringgit. And they have many Officers or whatever titles used for their staff. Organizing this and that workshop and lab. And this is just one not-so-Minister” Adviser.

    Here’s what PEMANDU claims to be in their official website:.

    Established on 16th September, 2009, a unit under the Prime Minister’s Department. PEMANDU’s main role and objective is to oversee the implementation, assess the progress, facilitate as well as support the delivery and drive the progress of the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) and the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

    Chairman is PM, Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer is Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, YB Senator Dato’ Sri Idris Jala.

    While the responsibility for end-to-end delivery of National Key Results Areas (NKRAs) and Ministerial Key Results Areas (MKRAs) outcomes ultimately rests with the respective ministries, and the success of the National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs) rests with the private sector, PEMANDU has been mandated to catalyse bold changes in public and private sector delivery, support the ministries in the delivery planning process and provide an independent view of performance and progress to the PM and ministers.

    In relation to the ETP, PEMANDU has been tasked with facilitating the implementation of the Entry Point Projects (EPPs) and Business Opportunities (BOs) that have been identified to ensure that Malaysia is transformed into a high-income nation by 2020. To allow PEMANDU to carry out its responsibilities effectively, it combines the best talent from both the civil service and private sector.


    • And here are some of the comments to the PEMANDU website info, some picked out from another blog –

      PEMANDU uses “The best talent from both the civil service and private sector”? Not PTD-staffed? No. 2 to the CEO Idris Jala a PTD Senior Officer? If not, appearing to be a rojak kind of “department” advising and telling the PTD what to do?

      If so, you think the PTD Senior Officers like it? When the PTD (formerly MCS) has for generations been known and accepted as the elite service? And the Ketua Setia Usaha Negara been regarded as, and is, in fact, the No.1 Civil Servant? OK, the KSN may not mind as he was picked over the head of 4-5 others more senior to him. But the hundreds others who are in the JUSA or Superscale category would not mind?

      “provide an independent view of performance and progress to the PM and ministers” – What happened to Economic Planning Unit and the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU)? Discarded? Still there and become redundant?

      The Ministries headed by the various Ketua Setia Usaha, who are all PTD Senior Officers, are still responsible for NKRAs and MKRAs but PEMANDU “mandated to catalyse bold changes in public and private sector delivery .. provide an independent view of performance and progress to the PM and ministers.” And the PTD who may have not been in full spirit with Transformation, liberalization, sidelining NEP in the NEM, etc?

      You think the PTD has much respect and would give full co-operation to PEMANDU? I doubt so. Maybe the PTD would just let PEMANDU do or don’t do what they like or don’t like. And I suspect that has caused the public perception of PEMANDU being negative. So many accusations of them engaging foreign consultants to do all sorts of studies and paying huge fees.

      Read the journals on the Malayan Civil Service etc, the MCS (now PTD) have for ages been proud of themselves as being the elite service in the country since British times. They don’t demonstrate (that’s Anwar Al Juburi, Lim Kit Siang and Mat Sabu style), or strike, they just “do the necessary”. Seen the British comedy series “Yes, Minister” and the sequel “Yes, Prime Minister”?


      • Maybe the problem has been a reluctance or “slowness” on the part of the Civil Service (the vast majority of whom are Malays) to Najib’s New Economic Model that hardly mentioned NEP in its first draft, (and did not say much about it in the final draft), liberalization and rushing to developed nation status at the expense of the interests of the majority of the population, the Malays, not aggressively leveling the playing field etc.

        So, he set up PEMANDU – “mandated to catalyse bold changes in public and private sector delivery. Whatever it was he wanted delivered. And he got the Chinese tsunami.

        Akbar the Great conquered India and his Army ensured his agricultural and other reforms be implemented fully, such that Akbar went down in history as the great reformer of India. Najib wants PEMANDU to do what Akbar’s Army did?


  7. Syed Hamid Albar –

    Alas, what can you expect of a has-been. And not a smart has-been at that, too.

    I would imagine the reasons why a person who has served as a Minister for a long time might have been appointed to such a post as SPAD Chairman include

    – he has shown many bright sparks in the past, if not,
    – he has a strong influence in his UMNO Division, useful for help in ensuring no contest to the UMNO Presidency
    – he has done favours for the current “appointer” in the past
    – he can be a nuisance or even cause embarrassment for one reason or other if not gratified by a public position

    Maybe the 3rd and the 4th reasons apply.

    And, not being smart, he just opens his mouth as and when he feels like doing it.


    • And the man covering the duties of Transport Minister is another not-so-smart guy, the one called Menteri Amaran when he was Home Minister. So why should Hamid Albar cares about consulting him before he opens his mouth. Maybe he has even done that and two not-so-smart guys don’t think much about the effects on the struggling, making-ends-meet, low income rakyat who are already up to their ears about rising prices.

      The poor Acting Transport Minister is now in hospital on treatment for his heart condition. Personally, as a fellow human being, he has my sympathies, but politically I don’t mind if he goes.

      The next question is: will MCA take the post now that they have elected their leaders? Some delegates to the MCA Convention asked for a resolution to continue not to accept government posts – what the hell are those blokes thinking? MCA merging with DAP? UMNO must now think seriously to do it on its own, no more kongsi kuasa which they themselves reject despite 56 years of existence. Especially after the Chinese tsunami when MCA had not contributed much to BN success.

      That request for such an UMNO-insulting resolution was not disposed off in a resolute manner. It was merely pointed out that the rules don’t allow that at this sitting. Are they going to hold an EGM to discuss that? Aiyyo, what the hell is happening to these ungrateful ingrates. The extent they go that reflects utter ungratefulness, still rejecting the kongsi kuasa concept of existence.


  8. There is no such thing as non executive chairman under SPAD Act. It is only chairman under the Act and the chairman derives his powers under the statute and from what I can see so far none of his statements were made outside his powers under the statute. Criticism must be based on facts and not emotionally driven by hatred or prejudices.


    • Can you quote the part (Section, Clause, Sub-Clause) stating the powers of the Chairman and the Director General under the statute?

      Only then would we know if Syed Hamid is the one who should be saying those. But please don’t ask me to find out that, because it’s you who came out with that opinion and presumably you want us to believe what you say..


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