New Cabinet to be announced today

PUTRAJAYA: Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who is set to announce his Cabinet today, is expected to lead a leaner administration, with no deputy prime minister to be appointed for now.

The Prime Minister, when contacted by The Star, said he would make known his Cabinet line-up and added that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has consented to his proposed list of ministers.

“The King has given his consent and there will be no changes (to the list).

“I will make the announcement tomorrow at 11am. The swearing-in of the ministers will take place on Monday,” he said.

The announcement will be aired live over RTM1.

Earlier, Istana Negara also confirmed that Ismail Sabri had presented the list to the King at 11am at Istana Abdulaziz in Kuantan, Pahang.

When asked for hints on the makeup of his Cabinet, Ismail Sabri declined to reveal anything.

“Let us wait till tomorrow. It’s just a few more hours to go,” he quipped.

There is talk of certain ministries being merged for a more effective and efficient management of policies and issues.

The previous Perikatan Nasional administration had 32 ministers.

On the deputy prime minister post not being filled for now, sources said that Ismail Sabri need not fill the post immediately, pointing out that he was made No.2 in the previous administration only 16 months after the Perikatan government had been up and running.

Sources said he also needed to first buy time to stabilise his position in Umno. Ismail Sabri is one of three Umno vice-presidents.

One source noted that he is the first premier from Umno who is not the party president, nor is he even the deputy president.

“With party elections looming, it would not augur well for Ismail Sabri to be seen butting heads with the two top Umno leaders by appointing a deputy prime minister from another party.

“Bersatu has also agreed to hold off its request for a few months,” said the source, referring to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, headed by his premiership predecessor Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Another source said that it is likely that Ismail Sabri was not able to choose between the few vying for the post from Bersatu.

“Anyway, all this is just a proposal. Let’s see if it comes to fruition,” said the source.

An announcement on the new Cabinet was highly anticipated yesterday after Ismail Sabri presented the list to the King.

However, sources said that the Prime Minister had decided to hold off on his announcement.

“He touched down in Kuala Lumpur after the audience with the King at 3.15pm and went straight to the office for back-to-back discussions and meetings.

“Since the swearing-in will only take place on Monday, the Prime Minister felt that Friday would be a better time to make the announcement,” said a source.

Meanwhile, political sources said the Cabinet list is very much finalised and there were only changes in the form of the swapping of portfolios between parties and ensuring the ministries are the right fit for the proposed Member of Parliament.

“Also, there is the issue of trying to ensure that the line-up would make a good government that can manage crises.

“We do not want to say much now, as we are all waiting for the Prime Minister to call, and saying the wrong things might jeopardise matters for the Prime Minister who has to play a balancing act of pleasing many parties, including his own,” said a former minister.

Conventionally, Malaysian political coalitions have a tradition of allocating certain portfolios to certain parties to keep everyone happy.

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