Not many Malaysians are privy to the Wednesday afternoon meetings between cabinet ministers and their key ministry officers. So we placed a fly-on-the-wall in the ministry of education and would like to share the goings-on at one such meeting.
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Datuk, the press is calling me about my announcement regarding free breakfast for schoolchildren. They want to know the details. What should I say?
Actually, we have been giving free meals to students since Najib’s time, YB.
Oh, so can I then say we are improving the scheme because Najib’s idea was not very good and it is flawed? So now the Pakatan government is improving the scheme?
Because in the recent Budget 2019 we cut the budget for free meals in schools. That means we are ending the scheme. So we cannot say the Pakatan government is improving the scheme when we are actually ending it.
Oh, no! Why did you not tell me before I opened my mouth and told the press we are implementing a scheme that was already in existence but which the Pakatan government ended?
But it was in the Budget 2019, YB. We thought you would have seen it.
Datuk, there are so many things to catch up on. How can you expect me to notice everything?
But you chaired the ministry’s budget committee, YB. And you approved the budget for our ministry.
Yes, maybe I chaired the committee and signed the documents. But that does not mean I know what we discussed or realise what I signed. You need to point out these things to me. So, what can I tell the press?
YB, you can always say what all the other Pakatan Harapan ministers say.
That this is all Najib’s fault?
No, YB, you can say the press misquoted you.
That’s a good idea. I can say we did not say we are going to provide free breakfast but that we are going to provide free meals and the press misquoted me.
I don’t think that can work, YB. It still technically comes to the same thing whether you said ‘breakfast’ or ‘meals’.
Then what can I say, Datuk?
You can say you intended to say ‘we are going to provide free time for student meals’ and you tersilap cakap ‘we are going to provide free meals for students’. So, it was an honest mistake.
Okay, but what do I say about our policy on the colour of school shoes and socks? The press is sure to ask me about this because so many people are making fun of me. They are even calling me Mister Bean.
But that is a complement, YB. Mister Bean is a very clever person. He is a graduate of Oxford University and was made an Honorary Fellow in 2006. His classmate was British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
I suppose that is true.
But then, YB, why do you keeping making statements every day? Maybe you can reduce the number of statements you make so that we do not need to keep doing U-turns or embark on damage control.
Datuk, do you know that all those who become Malaysia’s prime minister must first become the education minister? So, I have a good chance of becoming prime minister in future. But I first need to keep making statements to get noticed. Kit Siang said he has uttered and written 20 million words since he started his political career. So, I must utter at least one million words if I want to impress people that I am PM material. Do you think people like Mahathir and Anwar can become PM if they do not talk so much? Anyway, what do I say about the colour of school shoes and socks?
You can tell the press we are setting up a special commission to study this matter.
What if they ask me details?
Tell them we have to first set up a special committee?
A committee to come out with the proposal on the colour of school shoes and socks?
No, YB, a committee to come out with the proposal on the members of the commission.
Oh, so the committee will study the commission and the commission will study the colour of school shoes and socks?
That about sums it up, YB.
And when will this matter be resolved, Datuk? I am sure they will ask me that.
YB, you can promise them that all these matters will be resolved before the next general election in 2023.
Five years just to resolve the colour of school shoes and socks?
No, YB, not five years. That is crazy just to come out with a policy on the colour of school shoes and socks. We can complete this in just four years, YB.
What a relief. And what more should I announce to the press? I need at least one announcement a week to impress the PM that I am a great education minister.
Why not announce that in light of the PM’s ‘Look East Policy’ our ministry is going to adopt Japanese values? The PM will be very happy you are the first cabinet minister to adopt his Look East Policy. He might even make you the next DPM.
That is an extremely good idea. Well done. Which of those values are you talking about?
Hara Kiri. You can announce that based on Japanese values any student who fails his exam will be encouraged to commit Hara Kiri. In China and India, students who fail are already committing suicide.
But that will go against Islam, won’t it?
Not after we sign the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination or ICERD, YB. Then, based on the ICERD, Malaysians have the right to commit suicide and Islam can no longer take away that right.
Very good point, Datuk. Let me check with Mujahid Yusof Rawa when we will be signing the ICERD. Then I will make the announcement on Hara Kiri for students who fail their exam. And one way to improve Malaysia’s education system would be for failures to die. And after ten years Malaysia will have only good students because no bad students will be left alive. This is brilliant, Datuk!