I am in full agreement with Mr. Mansor Puteh for highlighting a truly weird "Malaysia Boleh" phenomenon, as he described it, regarding wives of ministers "tailing" their husbands here and there and everywhere.
As a former aide to a minister, I fully supported his views (Malaysiakini, Mar 15) under the heading: Ministers should leave their wives at home.
Yes, that is where they (the spouses) should be unless protocol requires them to be with their husbands.
Mr. Mansor wrote that some of them (the wives) follow their husbands on their overseas duties. He said and I quote: "I find this to be totally inappropriate as these women can be seen to be interfering in the official duties of their husbands. Besides, they are not officials in the Malaysian cabinet and have no function whatsoever other than being the wives of the ministers."
On top of that, he added, one also needs to ask, who is paying for their first-class plane tickets, board and lodging? Worse, if they also bring along a special assistant.
In most cases that I was aware, the government paid for the first-class or at least business-class air tickets, board and lodging.
"What the authorities must do now is to discourage, or ban them, from taking advantage of the fact that their husbands are ministers. We can understand that the prime minister and his deputy may be allowed to bring their spouses, but this cannot be a habit, and can only happen when they are attending special functions," Mr. Mansor said.
As Malaysians, Mr. Mansor said we have the right to stop this habit so that ministers cannot be charged for taking avantage of their position. This habit cannot be allowed even if the ministers say they pay for their wives expenses. The fact that their wives are around means that these ministers' attention will be distracted.
I would like to add that on the local front, ministers' wives should not follow their husbands on the stage for what ever reasons. They should be seated. I noticed that the wife of a certain minister would follow her husband on the stage and most of the times she would be the only female there. In the first place, she has no business to be there. Wives of former prime ministers did not follow their husbands on the stage but remained seated unless permitted by protocol.
As stated by Mr Mansor, ministers' wives are not ministers or members of the administration. They are just spouses. That is all.
There should not be more than one captain in charge of a ship. In certain cases, ministers' wives acted as captains. Well, this is Malaysia ... Malaysia Boleh!