1. Placing icons was easy in the past, but in Moksha desktop was disabled native E file manager which controled this feature. So, now it is possible to do this with lBar gadget. Try placing this gadget on the screen, create a new IBar section and put all apps you want to have there.
2a easy way: menu-settings-modules-backlight will add the bulb to the shelf and you can set the value with mouse
2b Look up the Key Bindings setup dialog and try to bind keys from left side to Backlight up and Backlight down from the right side.
Feel free to ask if needs, I am writing in little hurry
These are functionality issues which should be solved. Moreover I can mention a buggy systray which needs also some attention. But I agree with your point that I claimed above. Just needs to say, it is related to comfort of using and there are many and many ways how to get the same goal. Anyway, feel free to ask E developers about this feature (the menu system is theirs idea) and if they are willing help you, we can try to port the changes to moksha.