KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 25 — Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor’s decision to take on eight portfolios in the state executive council would tax his abilities but does not violate any rule, said observers.
Abdul Aziz Azizam, a senior lecturer with Universiti Teknologi Mara’s Faculty of Communication and Media Studies, explained that such decisions must be weighed against the dynamics and priorities of the individual state administrations.
While atypical, he said Sanusi’s arrangement was also without precedent.
“When Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir was the Kedah menteri besar, he also held a significant number of portfolios during his administration. Similarly, at the federal level, the prime minister also handles a substantial role as both the head of the government and the finance minister.
“In Kedah, there are specific needs that should be given specialisation, and therefore, there may be specific portfolios that are not the same as those managed at the federal level,” he said.
Abdul Aziz also said that the number of portfolios could be manageable by a single person if they were streamlined with the administration’s needs.
Selangor state executive councillor for investment, trade, and mobility Ng Sze Han was another who said there was technically no rule limiting the number of portfolios that a menteri besar could hold.
When asked if it would be responsible for one lawmaker to be in charge of eight distinct portfolios, Ng declined to comment other than to say this would depend on the competence of the person in question.
Earlier this week, Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor defended his decision to oversee eight portfolios within the state executive council by saying he did not have the luxury of appointing 28 ministers to manage the separate areas of responsibilities. — Bernama pic
“To me, the most important thing is whether the person can handle the duties or the responsibilities under that portfolio,” he said.
Selangor executive councillor for women empowerment and welfare Anfaal Saari expressed doubt over the effectiveness of having a menteri besar simultaneously oversee so many portfolios, saying even five was already a heavy task.
However, she said Sanusi might manage it if he could delegate parts of his portfolios to his other excos where there is overlap.
“For example, education and human capital development might be related to poverty eradication, so, to eradicate poverty you need to empower through education and capacity building. Hence, there will be a crisscross of executive councillors that will support whatever the menteri besar is doing,” she said.
After announcing his new state excos, Sanusi disclosed that he was personally handling eight portfolios that include state planning; mineral and geoscience; land resources; finance; state-linked companies; state economic action council; development; and external relations.
In the previous term, he held seven portfolios.
Earlier this week, Sanusi defended his decision to oversee eight portfolios within the state executive council by saying he did not have the luxury of appointing 28 ministers to manage the separate areas of responsibilities.
Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Puad Zarkashi was among those who criticised Sanusi for taking charge of the eight portfolios, saying the PAS leader should have delegated more duties to his exco members.