The Perikatan Nasional Cabinet

Muhyiddin creates 4 senior minister positions instead of DPM, recruits a mix of seasoned politicians, technocrats and close allies for a ‘functional Cabinet’ to help steer the country during current challenging time

by ASILA JALIL/ pic by TMR FILE

TAN Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (picture) unveiled his Cabinet yesterday, breaking the norms by not appointing a deputy prime minister (DPM), but instead created senior minister positions to assist him in the administration of the country.

Muhyiddin also selected a mix of seasoned politicians, technocrats, stalwarts from the Perikatan Nasional alliance and close allies as the eighth PM seeks to cement his position and lead the country during a period of economic challenges.

Political leaders who are facing criminal and courts charges were visibly missing from the Cabinet line-up announced eight days after the Pagoh MP took the oath of office as the PM.

“To ensure the newly formed Cabinet is a Cabinet with integrity, all Cabinet members that I announce have gone through and passed screenings by SPRM (the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) and PDRM (the Royal Malaysia Police).

“This shows that all ministers and deputy ministers who were selected are not currently involved in any corruption or criminal cases,” Muhyiddin said in Putrajaya yesterday.

But some of the big guns were missing from the line-up like PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan.

Muhyiddin, when revealing his Cabinet members, stressed that the line-up is a “functional Cabinet” which will deliver its services in a focused manner.

He appointed four senior ministers to assist him in coordinating Cabinet affairs in relation to issues related to the economy, security, infrastructure development, as well as education and social.

“The senior ministers will help me in executing tasks as the PM including chairing Cabinet meetings during my absence. With the presence of the senior ministers, there is no need for a DPM to be appointed at this time,” he said.

The four senior ministers are International Trade and Industries Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof and Education Minister Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin.

As expected, Muhyiddin, who was a former education minister, reintroduced the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE).

Muhyiddin said he would give greater emphasis on education. He said the Ministry of Education (MoE) is burdened by challenging tasks as it covers education from pre-school to higher education.

The PM also surprised the nation when he appointed CIMB Group Holdings Bhd CEO Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz as the finance minister. The 46-year-old banker will be appointed as a senator before helming the country’s treasury.

CIMB Group yesterday announced that Tengku Zafrul had relinquished his post as the group’s CEO effective yesterday. He also resigned from all board positions in the country’s second-largest banking group based on assets.

“I am humbled by this enormous responsibility, especially at a time when the country is facing unprecedented economic challenges. I undertake to give my best to the nation and am looking forward to serve with all the relevant stakeholders in ensuring we remain steadfast and in the spirit of inclusivity, work together to realise our collective aspirations,” Tengku Zafrul said in a statement.

Well accepted and moderate Federal Territories mufti Datuk Seri Dr Zulki f li Mohamad Al-Bakri joined the Cabinet as a minister in the PM’s Department (PMD) in charge of religious affairs. Zulkifli is seen as the voice of moderation amid worries that Islamisation is gripping the country. He is among the six senators recruited by Muhyiddin to strengthen the government.

A special portfolio under the PMD was also created to oversee state affairs in Sabah and Sarawak. “The government is serious in handling issues surrounding development and socio-economic progress of the people in Sabah and Sarawak. My Cabinet will ensure that the spirit of Malaysia Agreement 1963 will be translated in the form of policies and programmes that will directly benefit the people in Sabah and Sarawak,” Muhyiddin said.

Nine MPs from Sarawak, a crucial component of the Perikatan Nasional alliance, have been included into the line-up, including four as ministers.

Zuraida Kamaruddin, who is aligned to Azmin and broke away from PKR, remains as the minister of housing and local government.

The ministerial portfolios consist of 31 ministers and 38 deputy ministers. There is a 14% women representation in the line-up, but with no female senior minister.

The new Cabinet will be sworn in today, March 10, at 3pm at Istana Melawati in Putrajaya.