Amid expectations and concerns, Anwar Ibrahim’s cabinet set to take the oath of office
Following the election on 19 November, the third in 30 months, the new cabinet reflects a desire for financial and moral probity. Prime Minister Ibrahim will also be finance minister; two other ministers will also hold a second portfolio. The vote of confidence is scheduled for 19 December.
Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews) – Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who took office on 24 November, unveiled his new cabinet last night, reflecting his desire for financial and moral probity.
With 28 ministers, it is smaller than the preceding cabinets of Prime Ministers Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Muhyiddin Yassin – 31 and 32 respectively – with proportionally fewer deputy ministers.
Malaysia’s third government in just over two and a half years, the Ibrahim administration came to power following elections that were originally scheduled for next spring.
Two deputy prime ministers were also appointed: Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (Barisan Nasional, BN) and Fadillah Yusof (Gabungan Parti Sarawak, GPS); the latter is a strong alliance from Sarawak and had not agreed to any coalition before the vote.
As expected, in addition to a leaner cabinet, which he had promised voters, Ibrahim pledged to focus on policy rather than palace politics. To this end, he will also serve as finance minister while two other ministers will also hold a second portfolio.
Today key ministers will take the oath of office: Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz at International Trade and Industry, Mohamad Hasan at Defence, Rafizi Ramli at Economic Affairs, Anthony Loke at Transport, and Mohamad Sabu at Agriculture and Food Security. No cabinet minister was appointed directly by the head of government.
Many expectations weigh on the new government, starting from its resilience and ability to implement policy proposals in the current situation of great complexity and difficulty.
The election on 19 November gave Ibrahim’s reform-oriented coalition, Pakatan Harapan (PH), 81 seats, a simple majority in the 222-seat House of Representatives, the lower house of the Malaysian parliament.
With the king closely involved, consultations to form the cabinet saw the PH strike a deal with Barisan Nasional (30 seats), Malaysia’s historically dominant party since independence, as well as the regional Gabungan Parti Sarawak (23 seats) and other smaller and regional parties, including the Sabah-centred Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (6).
The Islamist coalition, Perikantan Nasional (73 seats), chose to stay in the opposition.
The new legislature will hold its first session on 19 December; on that occasion, the first item on the agenda will be the vote of confidence for Anwar Ibrahim and his government.