Malaysia forms conservative cabinet

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Malaysia cabinet
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (right) and his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak after his mediocre showing in the May 5 general elections on May 15 announced a new 57-member cabinet packed with traditionalists, which is also strikingly short of representatives from the Chinese minority.

Although Najib included some younger elements from his Barisan Nasional coalition in the cabinet line-up, namely a non-partisan banker and an anti-corruption activist, most of the key posts were retained by established leaders of his United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).

However, Najib said that he considered his selection “a balanced cabinet of experienced figures, technocrats and those who represent the young.”

Muhyiddin Yassin remained deputy prime minister while Zahid Hamidi was named home (interior) minister, swapping portfolios with Najib’s cousin Hishammuddin Hussein, who became the new defense minister.

Among the notable new ministers are Khairy Jamaluddin, one of Malaysia’s most internet-savvy politicians, who was put in charge of youth and sports issues, and Abdul Wahid Omar, president of Malaysian banking giant Maybank, who was appointed a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.

The line-up also includes a record number of indigenous politicians from the two largely rural Malaysian states on Borneo island, Sarawak and Sabah, where support for the National Front remains steady.

The main Chinese party got two seats. The previous cabinet had six full ministers from the minority group.

Najib blamed the poor showing in the elections on a “Chinese tsunami,” a remark that stirred up tensions between the majority ethnic Malays represented by UMNO and the Chinese, who overwhelmingly voted for a three-party opposition alliance.

Critics have said the coalition was also abandoned by urban voters on complaints of rising corruption and ballooning living costs, despite a series of cash handouts.

Malays make up about 60 per cent of the 28-million Malaysian population, while Chinese comprise more than 25 per cent. The country also has a significant minority of ethnic Indians.

The cabinet is to be formally sworn in on May 16.

 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (right) and his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak after his mediocre showing in the May 5 general elections on May 15 announced a new 57-member cabinet packed with traditionalists, which is also strikingly short of representatives from the Chinese minority.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Malaysia cabinet
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (right) and his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak after his mediocre showing in the May 5 general elections on May 15 announced a new 57-member cabinet packed with traditionalists, which is also strikingly short of representatives from the Chinese minority.

Although Najib included some younger elements from his Barisan Nasional coalition in the cabinet line-up, namely a non-partisan banker and an anti-corruption activist, most of the key posts were retained by established leaders of his United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).

However, Najib said that he considered his selection “a balanced cabinet of experienced figures, technocrats and those who represent the young.”

Muhyiddin Yassin remained deputy prime minister while Zahid Hamidi was named home (interior) minister, swapping portfolios with Najib’s cousin Hishammuddin Hussein, who became the new defense minister.

Among the notable new ministers are Khairy Jamaluddin, one of Malaysia’s most internet-savvy politicians, who was put in charge of youth and sports issues, and Abdul Wahid Omar, president of Malaysian banking giant Maybank, who was appointed a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.

The line-up also includes a record number of indigenous politicians from the two largely rural Malaysian states on Borneo island, Sarawak and Sabah, where support for the National Front remains steady.

The main Chinese party got two seats. The previous cabinet had six full ministers from the minority group.

Najib blamed the poor showing in the elections on a “Chinese tsunami,” a remark that stirred up tensions between the majority ethnic Malays represented by UMNO and the Chinese, who overwhelmingly voted for a three-party opposition alliance.

Critics have said the coalition was also abandoned by urban voters on complaints of rising corruption and ballooning living costs, despite a series of cash handouts.

Malays make up about 60 per cent of the 28-million Malaysian population, while Chinese comprise more than 25 per cent. The country also has a significant minority of ethnic Indians.

The cabinet is to be formally sworn in on May 16.

 

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