KUALA LUMPUR: In his efforts to bring about a change in the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry (MOA) which core businesses are for the benefit of the people, Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub has chosen to ignore criticism thrown at him The minister realised that such effort is not easy, as apart from planning, it needs commitment and courage to ensure every plan can be carried out effectively.
Salahuddin who was appointed to lead the ministry on May 21, 2018, admitted that although there were very few changes done over the last 18 months, those achievements indicated his commitment to taking MOA higher and on the right track.
The ongoing comprehensive reform is to establish better governance with high integrity, and it includes holistic audit management.
In an interview with Bernama recently, Salahuddin said he had to speed up his learning about the ministry while being firm in implementing changes at all levels and departments and agencies as MOA is a big entity.
“We have to move fast in coming up with a new vision as MOA is a ministry that deals with people in its day-to-day business.
Our core businesses are the people.
“Frankly speaking, the most challenging part (for me) was coming to the office on May 21, 2018, with zero experience as a minister.
We were the opposition then and so was our way of thinking, thus when we won the 14th General Election, we had to change our mindset to a ruling government,” he said.
One of the critical changes he had made was restructuring the National Farmers Organisation (Nafas) to clean the agency from power abuse and misappropriation.
He said the credibility of Nafas, which has more than 920,000 members, must be preserved as it is entrusted with the responsibility to take care of the interests and welfare of the farmers.
“So I must have guts to implement the reform which has seen me being sued by certain quarters who is uneasy with it.
But, I don’t care, we continue to move forward and today, Alhamdulillah, it has shown success,” he added.
Nafas registration was suspended on June 1, 2018, to pave the way for audit after it was discovered that there were elements of abuse of power and misappropriation.
The agency was back in business last January with its board of directors restructured.
According to the Pulai Member of Parliament, the ministry stern actions against foreign fishermen encroaching the country’s waters had contributed RM560 million to the fishing industry in terms of fish landings and proceeds from the auction of the seized boats.
The ongoing Naga Operation (Ops Naga), carried out since April in collaboration with ministries of Home, Defence and Foreign, has saved some RM6 billion for the country in terms of unlanded fish.
On the effort to secure the country’s food stockpile, he said Malaysia’s position in the Global Food Security Index had improved to the 28th spot this year compared to the 40th a year before.
It put Malaysia as the second best after Singapore in Southeast Asia and the fifth-best in the Asia Pacific region, he added.
Salahuddin who is also Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) deputy president said the ministry had, in February, launched five thrusts to drive MOA next year, including modernising and increasing the production of agriculture as well as encouraging the participation of the private sector to be the catalyst in all agriculture segments.
“The third thrust is to change the mindset of the Malaysian companies, especially among young people, that agriculture is a source of income.
It is no longer a last resort for graduates who could not find other jobs.
“The fourth is to give a focus and improve the ecosystem of the agriculture sector so that the entire value chain could drive the success, and the fifth is to establish collaboration between departments and agencies under the ministry to achieve the objectives,” he added. — Bernama