Most of us might already know that Malaysia recently elected its 10th Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, or Datuk Seri Anwar, to his people.
And just yesterday (2 December), he revealed his new Cabinet that will serve Malaysia for the upcoming few years.
Members of this new 28-minister Cabinet include leaders from different political coalitions that make up the country’s new unity government. The coalitions are: Pakatan Harapan (PH), Barisan Nasional (BN), Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS).
During a news conference, Mr Anwar highlighted that “this cabinet is a cabinet of a unity government”, and he has advised his ministers to start performing their duties soon.
“I have made it clear to the Cabinet that the unity government prioritises good governance and the need to reduce the people’s burden, as well as focuses on stimulating the economy, he mentioned.
He also told his Cabinet to refrain from engaging in “wastage, bribery and abuse of power”.
“We have set several basic principles: good governance, spurring the economy, and reducing the people’s burden in terms of living costs,” he added.
The ministers will be sworn in at 3 pm today (3 December) and have their first meeting on Monday (5 December).
And with that, here’s all you need to know about Malaysia’s new Cabinet.
Anwar Will be Finance Minister
After over three decades since he was first appointed as the country’s Finance Minister, Prime Minister Anwar will return to the role in his newest Cabinet.
He was initially Malaysia’s Finance Minister back in 1991 after Mahathir Mohamad, the Prime Minister and his mentor at that time, appointed him as such.
Mr Anwar also eventually managed to attain the role of Deputy Premier before he was fired from Cabinet in 1998. He was sacked due to a disagreement with Mahathir regarding what Malaysia should do in response to a financial crisis that was affecting Asia back then.
After his leave from Cabinet, he was also imprisoned due to charges relating to sodomy and corruption. Until now, Mr Anwar insists that these charges were issued to him in an attempt to “end his political career”.
For now, Anwar’s return to the Finance Minister role means that he will be responsible for the same things as former Prime Minister Najib Razak was, as the latter was the Finance Minister. Najib is currently in jail for a multi-billion-dollar graft scandal.
In light of that, there have been critics who have disapproved of the Prime Minister also doubling as a Finance Minister.
Regarding his work in the Finance Ministry, Mr Anwar clarified that he has arranged for multiple advisers to help him manage the country’s financial-related matters.
Mohd Hassan Marican, a former Petronas President and Chief Executive, leads the advisory team.
“I will be assisted by a strong team who are not only civil servants but also a group of advisers who will not burden the government’s coffers,” he assured.
Malaysia Will Have Two Deputy Prime Ministers for the First Time
Additionally, for the first time, Malaysia will have two Deputy Prime Ministers to assist Mr Anwar.
The two politicians called to this role are Ahmad Zahid, BN’s chairman, and Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof from GPS, who used to be a Works Minister.
In particular, Mr Zahid is currently on trial as he is facing more than 47 charges of bribery, money laundering and criminal breach of trust. So far, he has pleaded not guilty.
Mr Fadillah’s appointment as Deputy Prime Minister marks the first time a politician from East Malaysia has held the role. He will also be in charge of the Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry in Malaysia.
This is the Smallest Cabinet in Recent History for Malaysia
Although Mr Anwar has not unveiled the deputy ministers in his Cabinet yet, it has been confirmed that the Cabinet will be made up of 28 ministers, making it the smallest Cabinet in the recent history of Malaysia.
This is due to the limited costs that Mr Anwar is allocating to the Cabinet.
“Our choices are limited because as I have announced earlier, we do not want too many ministers or envoys of ministerial status to reduce our expenditure,” he explained.
Before Mr Anwar, Mr Muhyiddin Hassin, the previous Prime Minister, had a Cabinet of 32 ministers and 38 deputies.
Before that, Mr Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s Cabinet comprised 31 ministers and 38 deputies.
Most Seats in Parliament and Cabinet Belong to PH Allies
Apart from that, Mr Anwar’s Cabinet will see 15 members of the PH alliance take on roles in Cabinet, with members in charge of essential aspects of the country such as finance, home affairs and education.
The PH alliance also takes up the majority of seats in Parliament with 82 seats.
In particular, familiar faces such as Anthony Loke, the Secretary-General of the Democratic Action Party (DAP), will continue to helm the Transport Ministry.
Former Defence Minister Parti Amanah Negara chief Mohamad Sabu will now be in charge of the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry.
On the other hand, Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, PH’s Secretary-General, will be managing Malaysia’s Home Affairs Ministry.
Some Ministers Elected to Cabinet for the First Time
Apart from familiar faces, several ministers have also been elected to Cabinet by Mr Anwar for the very first time.
These ministers include Rafizi Ramli, currently serving as Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s Deputy President (PKR). PKR is Mr Anwar’s party. He will be serving as the Minister of Economic Affairs.
Zaliha Mustafa, a first-time PKR Member of Parliament (MP), was named Malaysia’s new Health Minister.
PKR’s Women’s Chief and Women’s Chief Fadhlina Sidek will be the country’s new Education Minister in her Cabinet debut.
Nga Kor Ming, the Perak Chief of DAP, will join the Cabinet for the first time as Housing and Development Minister. Apart from that, fellow DAP politician Hannah Yeoh will take over the Youth and Sports Ministry. She was the former Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development.
BN, led by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), will be in charge of six ministries. UMNO currently has 30 lawmakers within the organisation.
Mohamad Hasan, UMNO’s Deputy President, will be the new Defence Minister, while UMNO member Ms Azalina Othman will be the Law Minister.
Two Politicians Who Did Not Win Seats Will Still be in the Cabinet
In addition, two of the politicians who could not win parliamentary seats during the election were still selected by Mr Anwar to join the Cabinet.
These two politicians are Tengku Zafrul Aziz, the International Trade and Industry Minister, and Zambry Abdul Kadir, the Secretary-General of BN, who will take over as Malaysia’s Foreign Minister. The former is a new politician who participated in his first election on 19 November this year.
As senators, they will be sworn in alongside Datuk Seri Saifuddin and Datuk Naim Mokhtar, who are not MPs.
Special Meeting to Teach Ministers how to “Not Waste Government Funds”
And it seems like the newest Cabinet is down to getting work soon, as they will be gathering for a “special meeting” next Monday (5 December).
As for the meeting, Mr Anwar revealed some details during an appearance at the Kenduri Rakyat at Masjid Muhammad Al Fateh in Taman Jati yesterday (2 December).
“The meeting will talk about the way the Cabinet members should manage their respective ministries, on how to work together with civil servants, how to make media announcements and how to not waste government funds,” he shared.
Regarding the usage of funds, he also indicated that the government’s primary goal is strengthening the country’s economy.
“We need to strengthen the ringgit. When the ringgit is strengthened, the import cost will be less, and when it happens, the cost of goods and food will also be less.
“Secondly, we need to identify and make sure to implement the right policies to improve the economy. For this, the politicians and civil servants have to work together. We have to avoid all misunderstandings and different views to materialise this matter,” he announced.
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