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Hishammuddin’s incompetence

HERE’S what I want to know: why was Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein appointed to the cabinet, and why is he still a minister despite an appalling track record of saying and doing the wrong things?

Hishammuddin’s statements as Home Minister since he was sworn into Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s administration in April 2009, betray either how clueless or disrespectful he is about human rights, democratic principles and gender equality.

Examples abound. Most notably:

Hishammuddin may as well have said this..(all pics of Hishammuddin courtesy of theSun)

bullet  Hishammuddin famously said he was “thankful” that no “serious incidents” occurred in Perak on 7 May 2009 despite police action in arresting scores of people, including elected representatives, and the unlawful imprisonment of Perak Speaker V Sivakumar.

…and this…

bullet  He also famously declared that lawyers were not above the law in justifying the arrest of five legal aid lawyers who were trying to represent their clients who had been arrested at the Brickfields police station on the night of 7 May 2009. It wasn’t just the Bar Council who was outraged, even the MCA was appalled at the arrest of lawyers who were merely doing their job. But Hishammuddin still found it fit to defend such police action.

…also this…

bullet  Of course, the starkest example of the kind of minister Hishammuddin is was demonstrated when he not only welcomed the Shah Alam cow-head protestors, he also defended them. With Hishammuddin’s powerful and public legitimisation of bigotry and the threat of violence against Hindus in Malaysia, I reckon that Hishammuddin’s behaviour was far more shameful than the protestors’. After all, his is a public office paid for by all tax-paying Malaysians to protect the nation’s, and not some thugs’, interest.

…and this…

bullet  Hishammuddin also became the butt of ridicule when on 12 Nov 2009 he defended the police yet again despite the country’s high crime rate.

…and this.

bullet  And most recently, Hishammuddin demonstrated a total lack of gender awareness when he declared that Section 498 of the Penal Code was here to stay. His statement in Parliament also reminds us that actually, Hishammuddin, a lawyer by training, has no understanding of Malaysia’s commitments under international law. In this case, it would be the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women or Cedaw, which Malaysia signed in 1995.


What do these gaffes by Hishammuddin tell us? Clearly, he’s an incompetent minister who seems intent on defending the police force for their disregard of human rights and for their inefficiencies.

Penan woman

What has been done about the Penan issue in Sarawak?
(pic courtesy of Sofiyah Israa @ Flickr)

After all, the Home Ministry‘s mission statement, according to its website, is the “administration of internal security matters in ensuring peace and wellbeing of the people”. How can a minister entrusted with this defend police incompetence and the threat of violence by non-state actors such as the cow-head protestors?

Also, what is Hishammuddin doing about the sheer incompetence of the Sarawak police force? Why has no action been taken against the police in Sarawak for its sloppy investigations into the rape of Penan girls and women despite a government task force report finding evidence of the rapes? Already, the Sarawak Women for Women Society (SWWS) has reported yet another rape in a primary school in the interiors of Sarawak where a teacher is a suspect.

As SWWS points out: “… the lesson for society to learn is that rape happens in the interior and will continue to happen until people who commit this crime know they are going to be found out and held to account for their actions.”

Shaitaan defends his demons against Hishamuddin’s accusations
(source: ribut di kuala lumpur)

But with Hishammuddin so busy defending the police force for its incompetence and lack of respect for human rights and democratic principles, will those who threaten the “peace and wellbeing of the people” ever be taken to task?

I’d be curious to know what Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will eventually be put in place for the Home Ministry. And if these KPIs are drawn up intelligently and fairly, I’ll be willing to wager that Hishammuddin is more likely to fail in meeting his KPIs than succeed.

Cabinet appointments

Even so, will Hishammuddin be retained? That would really be a measure of whether Najib is serious about meeting his own KPIs as the nation’s chief executive officer.

See, the problem with Hishammuddin being a minister isn’t who he is per se. The problem with Hishammuddin is that the selection process of cabinet ministers is governed by political patronage.

On 13 Nov 2009, theSun ran a translation of the Chinese language press reports that quoted Najib as squashing rumours about an impending cabinet reshuffle involving MCA leaders. The Chinese press had speculated that MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat would ask for vice-president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai to be removed as Health Minister because of the fighting between both men.

Najib and Hishammuddin are cousins
(file pic)

We all know that such a scenario is entirely possible. After all, by convention, the leaders of the main Barisan Nasional component parties have always been given cabinet positions.

In Hishammuddin’s case, it would not be surprising if he was appointed to a powerful cabinet portfolio because he is Umno vice-president. Not only that, he is also Najib’s cousin and the son of a former prime minister, Tun Hussein Onn.

This begs the question: who merits being appointed to cabinet positions in this country? Surely, if we are to achieve all the development goals that our prime ministers have been so fond of announcing, what we need are appointments based on meritocracy. Not political patronage nor family ties nor positions within a party.

For all intents and purposes, Hishammuddin should step down for his dismal and embarrassing performance as minister. And if he doesn’t have the integrity to do so, he should be sacked. Neither is likely to happen, of course. But I would be happy to be proven wrong. favicon

Jacqueline Ann Surin can’t believe how little shame, intelligence and integrity some cabinet ministers in Malaysia have.

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27 Responses to “Hishammuddin’s incompetence”

  1. Azizi Khan says:


    I, unlike you, am not shocked at our current Home Minister. His predecessor, a trained lawyer as well, was equally bad. Hishammuddin was also the Education Minister. Which proves my theory that one does not need intelligence to be a Barisan Nasional minister.


  2. tsunami unleashed says:

    It is for his statement and action that we, or I for that matter, wish to change his ministry and name as follows. Simply put, “Go-Home Minister” , Mr “His Shame Mood Didn’t”.

  3. Antares says:

    Thirteen years ago, the editors of what was then a very trendy lifestyle magazine decided to turn Hishammuddin Hussein into a coverboy. Admittedly he looked good in a well-tailored suit and he had a friendly twinkle in his eye.

    That was before I heard him open his mouth. Since then, I have to close my earholes whenever the man speaks for fear his inane utterances will damage my brain cells. Hishammuddin Hussein suffers from a serious case of regressive genes. His grandfather was Onn Jaafar, a pioneer of Malay nationalism and founder of Umno; his father Tun Hussein Onn was Malaysia’s third prime minister and was generally well respected for his low-key, unflamboyant leadership style. I don’t remember much about Hussein Onn but he wasn’t overly fond of the ambitious upstart Mahathir – and for me that’s solid enough credentials for any human. Now here’s Hishammuddin who has been dubbed “Kerishammuddin” for his infamous keris-kissing performance at the 2006 Umno general assembly.

    When I heard he was taking over from […] Syed Hamid Albar as home minister, I merely groaned. But, looking around at 1Najib’s entire 1Cabinet… can anyone possibly be inspired (except to seriously consider migration)? The whole lot of them are classic washouts and wholly deserve oblivion.

  4. Fisher says:

    It is always a blessing to have certain individuals who are advantageous to the opposition’s position come general elections. Previously, we had such a terribly incompetent information minister, a foot-in-mouth home minister and an enfant terrible SIL. Perhaps the likes of the current crop will be a boon to the rakyat in GE13. As a matter of fact, they should be encouraged to speak more and thus remove all doubt!

  5. MarinaM says:

    Nice one, Jacq! I had the same conversation last night at dinner with some corporate types. So it’s not just us low-lifes, NGOs etc who think this.

    And don’t forget Hisham’s remark about Nordin Top and how he could have rehabilitated him…

  6. zaharibb says:

    He is in line as our next PM since he has gone through the mill as cabinet minister.

  7. Alan Tan says:

    Good grief. He is more dense than I thought. He shames me as a human being.

  8. Nicholas Aw says:

    Despite the seriousness of your wonderful article, I can’t help laughing to myself. In my comment to “Nazri’s remark over Lingam’s case irresponsible”, I mentioned that we have some ministers (past and present) who are better off as clowns – among them Syed Hamid Albar, Muhyiddin, Nazri and of course, Hishammuddin.

    If there were an award [for] the Greatest Clown, of course Hishammuddin wins hands down. In most, if not all of Shakespeare’s plays, there is always the joker or jester. Hishammuddin fits the bill perfectly.

  9. tun faisal says:

    The same old Jac whom I knew in 1993. A bit slanderous don’t you think? 🙂

  10. zorro says:

    Jac, could this be why?

    “One conclusive hallmark of a failed state is that the crooks are inside the government, using government to protect and to advance their private interests.” Anon.

  11. sambal muncha says:

    Can we have an “incompetence” series for all our ministers? You’ll not run out of material, I promise.

  12. Mr.Shame says:

    Name pronounced: He Shamed Most Din?


    Perhaps, a compilation of all the gaffes made by those clowns in authority will become a best seller.

  13. Merah Silu says:

    Wow, it is a very well organised and high spirited condemnation. I have read many deragotary comments about Tun Mahathir as well. I am not surprised. Being a Malaysian, I am very proud to have Tun Mahathir and now Datuk Najib as the country’s leaders. Very grateful that these leaders and their teams (ministers) have steered the country well and we live in peace and harmony.

    We teach our family to have certain “adab” to comment on others. After all Malay [Malaysians] are always very careful in their comments so as not to offend others. Well, we have this alien culture, and [it is] definitely not the traditional culture of the people of this country.

    Editor’s note: For further reading on the politics of Malay Malaysian culture and identity, do read and

    Shanon Shah
    Columns and Comments Editor

  14. tun faisal says:

    Err do you need to approve the response first? Can’t you just set it to auto-approval mode so that it shows that you’re sincere in upholding transparency and freedom of expression? 🙂

    Editor’s note: Our comments and columns are moderated according to this policy, which is readily available on the website:

    Comments that violate this policy are rejected. If certain portions of a comment violate the policy but the comment itself is valid, the comment is edited according to the policy.

    The policy itself upholds freedom of expression and principles of transparency. It does, however, ensure that debates are kept civil and do not degenerate into personal attacks.

    Furthermore, many comments need to be edited because some of them contain too many spelling and grammatical errors.

    Shanon Shah
    Columns and Comments Editor

  15. Observer says:

    That is why I cannot imagine why anyone would even want to give a single vote to Umno and BN. If you are not happy with the ppposition, then at least withhold your vote instead of handing it to Umno.

  16. toni says:

    What a direct and brave article.

    Calling a spade a spade. A useless minister is a terminal disease which should be removed instantly.

    Well said!

  17. pilocarpine says:

    The wisest thing to do when you have no good words to say is do not say anything.

  18. Awareness says:

    Party politics corrupts. Once upon a time, HHO was a good man. That was before he led Umno Youth. This trend is clear in politics, even in PR we are seeing it.

  19. James says:

    Is it any wonder that the twin crime rates committed by bona fide criminals and by others disguised as police are shooting up akin to mercury on a very hot day? Very soon there will be less and less distinction between the two parties of the twin.

    Can’t really blame the police though because their big boss the MoHA is good for nothing […] and has ill intentions in his […] heart. That also explains the drop in corruption index as well as the drop in rankings of Bolehland’s unis. MY BOLEH!

  20. Pratamad says:

    Haha! Great one, and your detailed research provides the right info to include Hishammuddin into some kind of Hall of Shame page for ministers, like what some great souls have done for our judges:

    It’s only a matter of time there will be one for M’sian ministers too.

  21. Fiona Kwok says:

    Thanks for the informative article and for speaking up. Too many in the country just turn a blind eye to the blatant displays of idiocy totally unbecoming of any cabinet minister or elected government rep.

  22. elaine says:


    I do not think you need to waste time to write this article to highlight Hishammuddin’s incompetence. There is more ‘nonsense’ he has spoken which he should not have spoken if he wants to pretend to be clever. It is just that he has such an inflated ego because of low self image that he needs to keep talking nonsense to make himself more foolish.

  23. C. Lee says:

    Great news. Thanks to your comments and courage!

  24. tun faisal says:

    Shanon, I think it is just a lame excuse. I don’t think you should moderate any comment if you are really sincere in upholding freedom of expression and transparency in your platform. You may let it appear unmoderated cause it is up to your readers to comment what they feel like commenting. Grammar or spelling error shouldn’t be the issue, because what people want to look at is the originality of the comments and ideas. So leave the comment unmoderated otherwise what is your site’s credibility to write about freedom of expression? 🙂 This is only a simple challenge which you should take up so that people know you walk your talk. 🙂

    Editor’s note: Thank you for your feedback. As far as we are concerned our policy is very clear. On a separate note, readers can and will evaluate us on the quality and credibility of our body of work, as will happen with any journalistic outfit. Having said that, we stand by our policy and thank you for contributing your ideas and suggestions.

    Shanon Shah
    Columns and Comments Editor

  25. I like the comments system in TNG. At least I get comments worth reading. Some of the comments I read on other websites sound like Youtube flamewars.

  26. M.K. says:

    Bravo! An excellent piece! I hope he reads it. Keep it up!

  27. Gopal Raj Kumar says:

    Jacqueline Surin has her knickers in a twist again about nothing.

    What right have you to decide when and for what reasons a minister or any other representative has to be in parliament?

    Silly little girl. Malaysia’s MPs are a representation of its masses. People like you, Ms Surin. […]

    Read the responses you allow here. Words like I was shocked! Really? Try 240 volts first.

    The shape of a pocket? Keep your hands off your pocket. Not everything you feel there is a pocket.

    A pox on your houses.

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