Malaysia PM Anwar unveils new Cabinet; Zahid and Fadillah appointed as DPMs

Malaysian PM Anwar Ibrahim announcs his new Cabinet on Dec 2, 2022.
PHOTO: Facebook/Anwar Ibrahim

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has unveiled a new Cabinet, in which he will also hold the post of Finance Minister while Umno chief Zahid Hamidi becomes Deputy Prime Minister.

The leaner Cabinet comprising 28 ministers was unveiled on Friday, with appointments distributed among the top leaders of coalitions making up the unity government, namely Pakatan Harapan (PH), Barisan Nasional (BN), Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS).

Mr Anwar, who was sworn in as prime minister last week, said ministers should begin their duties soon and he advised them to avoid wastages, bribery, and abuse of power.

"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 focusing on stimulating the economy," he said.

For the first time in Malaysia's history, two deputy prime ministers were appointed — BN chairman Zahid, who is facing dozens of graft charges, and GPS's Fadillah Yusof, who was a former Works Minister.

"This is a big responsibility to be shouldered with determination, sincerity and honesty in the interests of political stability, the nation's economy and prosperity," Mr Fadillah, the first deputy prime minister from Sarawak or Sabah, said in a statement on Friday night. He will also helm the plantation and commodities ministry.

PH, which has the largest bloc of MPs, took the lion's share of appointments with 15 ministers, including in key portfolios such as finance, home affairs and education.

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Democratic Action Party secretary-general Anthony Loke returned to his transport ministry post, a portfolio he held under the previous PH government, while Parti Amanah Malaysia chief Mohamad Sabu, a former defence minister, was assigned the agriculture ministry.

Some new ministerial appointments from PM Anwar's Parti Keadilan Rakyat included his deputy Rafizi Ramli as economic affairs minister, PKR's first-time MP, Dr Zalipa Mustafa, as health minister and women's chief Fahlina Sidek as education minister. DAP's Perak chief Nga Kor Ming will be part of the Cabinet for the first time as housing and development minister.

Meanwhile BN, which contributes 30 lawmakers was allotted six ministries including in defence, law and institutional reform and international trade and industry.

Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan will be defence minister, while Ms Azalina Othman will be law minister. Tengku Zafrul Aziz, who was finance minister in the last administration and had lost his parliamentary seat contest in the Nov 19 general election, returns to the Cabinet as international trade minister.

The new ministers are set to attend a special meeting on Monday.

"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," Datuk Seri Anwar said at an earlier event on Friday in Ipoh, Perak, according to the Malay Mail.

Mr Anwar last week said his Cabinet appointments should not be seen as a "reward" for politicians who backed him to lead the unity government.

He had also promised to reduce the size of his Cabinet compared with that of his predecessors Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Muhyiddin Yassin, who both had bloated Cabinets of more than 30 ministers and nearly 40 deputies.

The swearing in of the Cabinet ministers has been set for 3pm on Saturday.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.