Malaysian King Approves 13 Cabinet Members for New Government

BenarNews staff
Kuala Lumpur
180518-MY-cabinet-620.jpg Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad (right), joined by Deputy Prime Minister-designate Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, answers a question during a press conference in Petaling Jaya, May 17, 2018.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad unveiled 13 members of his cabinet Friday, nine days after leading an alliance of opposition parties to their first electoral victory since independence six decades ago, but he left the vital foreign minister portfolio unfilled.

The cabinet, approved by Sultan Muhammad V, Malaysia’s king, is split evenly among the four parties of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition. It reflects the country’s multi-ethnic population and Wan Azizah Wan Ismail is set to become the highest-ranking female leader in Malaysian history when she is sworn in as deputy prime minister. She will hold a second portfolio as minister of women and family development.

Mahathir named three members of his Malaysian United Indigenous Party (Bersatu), three from Wan Azizah’s People’s Justice Party (PKR), four from the ethnic Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP) and three from the faith-based National Trust Party (Amanah).

From Bersatu, Mahathir named Muhyiddin Yassin as home minister, Maszlee Malik as education minister and Puan Rina Harun as minister of rural development. Mahathir dropped his earlier promise to serve as education minister because of a coalition pledge prior to the election where PH upset Barisan Nasional (BN), the coalition that ruled Malaysia for 61 years.

“That’s the position of the manifesto and I can’t break it,” Mahathir said in a Bersatu Facebook posting on Friday. “I failed to realize that the prime minister cannot hold any other portfolio. I thought that the restriction only applied to the prime minister holding the finance portfolio.”

Najib Razak, who led BN and was seeking a third term as prime minister, also served as finance minister. Since the election, Najib has been ordered not to leave the country and residences linked to him have been searched by police officials who reported recovering stashes of money and jewelry along with hundreds of high-priced designer hand bags.

Joining Wan Azizah from PKR are Mohamed Azmin Ali as minister of economic affairs and Zuraida Kamaruddin as minister of housing and local government.

Wan Azizah’s husband and founding leader of PKR, Anwar Ibrahim, was pardoned by the king on Wednesday and freed from his prison sentence on a sodomy conviction. The coalition campaigned on Anwar succeeding Mahathir as prime minister, a move that could take place in a year or two, according to Mahathir.

The new prime minister also named Lim Guan Eng from DAP as minister of finance, along with Anthony Loke Siew Fook as minister of transportation, Gobind Singh Deo as minister of communication and multimedia and M. Kulasegaran as minister of human resources.

Lim is scheduled to be in court on Monday where he has pleaded not guilty to two corruption charges, the Straits Times of Singapore reported. Despite the ongoing court issue, Anwar endorsed Lim for the role during a public rally hours after his release from prison on Wednesday.

The Amanah party cabinet members are Mohamad Sabu, as defense minister, Salahuddin Ayub, as agriculture and agro-based industry minister and Dzulkefly Ahmad, as health minister.

Sabu, like others linked to the new administration, has served time following his imprisonment twice under the nation’s defunct Internal Security Act, according to Malaysian media. Working as a cook during his second incarceration 30 years ago, Sabu established relationships that carried through his political career.

The swearing-in of the new cabinet is scheduled to take place on Monday in Istana Negara, the king’s official residence.


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