Putrajaya to axe 17,000 ‘political appointees’

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PUTRAJAYA — A whopping 17,000 “political appointees” will be terminated soon, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday.

He said his Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration is looking to trim excess fat from the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration to cut government spending.

“There had been excessive government spending and we need to reduce this, which includes too many contract employees, some of whom were for administrative needs while others were political appointees.

“In cases where they are drivers who get a low salary, it would be a burden to them if we terminate them abruptly,” Dr Mahathir told a news conference at the Perdana Leadership Foundation here.

He said such contract workers would be reassigned to tasks more suited to their qualifications, adding the government is reviewing other expenditure to cut costs.

On how many more government servants will be laid off besides the political appointees, Dr Mahathir said action will only be taken against those suspected of wrongdoings.

“The senior officers who obviously have done something wrong or are suspected of doing something wrong, we will give them leave for them to enjoy a holiday, or we will suspend them.

“It depends on what particular action we can carry out to remove them from the government.”

He said the first phase of the government formation with the appointment of 10 ministers should be announced this week.

“The government can hold a Cabinet meeting with just these 10 people before the 15 other positions are filled up to make up the full Cabinet of 25 ministries.

“As this will take time, there is a need for us to hold the Dewan Negara sitting as soon as possible, so we will try to convene the Dewan Rakyat and hold the oath-taking ceremony soonest.”

Dr Mahathir said efforts to expedite the ministerial appointment process was also crucial so laws which needed to be repealed could be studied.

The laws to be reviewed are the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Act, the Anti-Fake News Act 2018, and others that restrict freedom of speech.

“We have no intention of maintaining the Anti-Fake News Act but we need to study it too.

“All these, the GST, Anti-Fake News as well as laws on national security and other related laws which restrict the freedom of the people will be reviewed.”

On fuel prices which are reviewed weekly, Dr Mahathir said: “There will be no ups and downs … present prices will stay. If there is a need, we will subsidise.”

Meanwhile, the PH chairman said many politicians from the previous government had expressed their willingness to join PH.

“We find the people cannot accept them. Therefore, they should not be accepted as members.

“They may quit their party, for example Umno, and express their support to the government, but (they) cannot become members of the ruling government.

“People do not want the new government to look like the old one.”

He also said he is committed to the herculean task of reforming the country.

“It is time consuming and energy consuming … I do not get much sleep.

“But I have to do it because they have appointed me as prime minister. I cannot complain very much.”