by P PREM KUMAR / pic by BERNAMA
The new Cabinet comprising Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and 12 other ministers will be sworn in today, formalising the first non-Barisan Nasional government to lead the nation since independence.
Last week, Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad received the consent for his Cabinet line-up, paving the way for the establishment of the Pakatan Harapanled federal government. More ministers are expected to be named, but Dr Mahathir had indicated the Cabinet size will be smaller than the previous government.
Dr Mahathir is also expected to chair the Cabinet meeting this Wednesday at Perdana Putra, Putrajaya, also known as the PM complex. The last time Dr Mahathir chaired the Cabinet meeting was almost 15 years ago.
The meeting is expected to set the tone as the new government pushes for reforms, addresses key issues and fulfils the coalition’s election pledges.
Besides being deputy PM, Dr Wan Azizah will helm the Women Affairs and Welfare Ministry, DAP deputy chairman Gobind Singh Deo (Communications and Multimedia Minister), Dr Maszlee Malik (Education Minister), PKR Wanita chief Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin (Housing and Local Government Minister), Seremban MP Anthony Loke Siew Fook (Transport Minister) and DAP vice chairman M Kulasegaran (Human Resources Minister), Parti Amanah Negara deputy president Salahuddin Ayub (Agriculture and Agrobased Industry Minister), Amanah’s strategic director Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (Health Minister) and Titiwangsa MP Rina Harun (Rural Development Minister).
In what was seen as a revelation, PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali has been named as the Economic Affairs Minister. At press time, it is not known whether he is accepting the offer and resigning from his Selangor Mentri Besar (MB) post.
Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, is expected to issue an official statement pertaining to Mohamed Azmin’s position.
Bernama reported that Mohamed Azmin confirmed the matter after having an audience with the Sultan and discussing his status as MB for about two hours at Istana Bukit Kayangan in Shah Alam yesterday.
Dr Mahathir had earlier announced the core line-up comprising Dr Wan Azizah, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as the home affairs minister, DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng as the finance minister and Amanah president Mohamad Sabu as the defence minister.
Dr Mahathir had initially nominated himself as the education minister. He, however, rescinded the decision following concerns that a PM should not hold a second portfolio. Dr Mahathir is also expected to delegate key priorities to the various ministries as the government works to fulfil its election manifesto.
Dates for the next parliamentary seating are also critical to allow the government to table new motions and repeal several laws.
Meanwhile, PM Lee Hsien Loong met Dr Mahathir at the Perdana Leadership Foundation in Putrajaya on Saturday.
The Singapore leader was the second regional head to call on Dr Mahathir since his appointment as the PM. Sultan of Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah paid a courtesy call on Dr Mahathir last week.