KUALA LUMPUR: The new Malaysian Cabinet led by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim was sworn in on Saturday afternoon (Dec 3).
The Cabinet line-up includes two deputy prime ministers – Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Gabungan Parti Sarawak’s (GPS) Fadillah Yusof.
Mr Anwar also holds the finance portfolio, while Mr Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz of BN is the new trade minister.
Speaking to reporters after taking his oath of office, Mr Ahmad Zahid called on all sides to set aside their political differences so that the new unity government can work to serve Malaysians.
“We need to prioritise the people to create stability in the country to lure back foreign investors and encourage DDI (domestic direct investments),” said the BN chairman.
He added that BN leaders appointed to the Cabinet can help to strengthen Malaysia’s administration and management system, having had experience in government.
The defence portfolio and economy portfolios are held by Mr Mohamad Hasan (BN) and Mr Rafizi Ramli (PH) respectively.
Mr Anthony Loke from the Pakatan Harapan (PH) is the transport minister while Mr Mohamad Sabu (PH) serves as the agriculture minister.
Mr Ahmad Zahid will also serve concurrently as rural development minister, while Mr Fadillah is the commodities minister at the same time.
A separate swearing-in ceremony was held earlier in the morning for the appointed senators in the Upper House. Among the senators who were picked as ministers include former finance minister Tengku Zafrul, who lost his seat in the general election.
Mr Anwar’s leadership team comprises 28 ministers, which is leaner than the recent Cabinet teams helmed by Mr Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Mr Muhyiddin Yassin. The list of deputy ministers has yet to be announced.
Under the Ismail Sabri administration, there were 31 ministers and 38 deputies.
Mr Muhyiddin, meanwhile, had a Cabinet of 32 ministers and 38 deputies.
In announcing his Cabinet line-up on Friday night, Mr Anwar said: “After swearing in tomorrow, I will hold a special meeting with the ministers so that some rules, directions, new methods can be introduced in order to speed up the efforts in carrying out their duties.”
He stressed that in his unity government, the issues of good governance, easing the people’s burden and economic development will be the top priorities.
The Nov 19 general election produced no clear winner, with neither Mr Anwar’s PH nor Mr Muhyiddin’s Perikatan Nasional (PN) able to secure a simple majority in the 222-seat Lower House.
PH won 81 seats while PN managed 73, putting both in a position to form the next government. A coalition needs to be backed by at least 112 lawmakers to form the next government. Both coalitions scrambled to gather support from BN, GPS and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS).
BN, which finished a distant third, managed to win 30 seats. GPS won 23 seats while GRS emerged victorious in six seats.
The king had asked PH and PN to form a unity government, but the latter turned down the suggestion.
Following a meeting of the Malay rulers on Nov 24 regarding the political impasse, Istana Negara announced that Mr Anwar will be the next prime minister.
After his swearing-in on Nov 24, Mr Anwar told reporters that the unity government comprises PH, BN and GPS. The government also included Parti Warisan Sabah, Malaysian United Democratic Alliance and other independent lawmakers.
A day later, he announced that GRS also joined the unity government.
Mr Anwar had said that he will do away with appointing Cabinet ministers as a form of reward.
The next parliamentary session will take place on Dec 19. Mr Anwar said that a vote of confidence in his leadership will be the first item on the agenda.
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