Guessing game begins as Anwar’s Cabinet takes shape

PETALING JAYA: All eyes are on the Cabinet member list of the unity government following the appointment of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as the 10th Prime Minister of the country.

On his first day in office, Anwar announced that the Cabinet would be leaner, with ministers receiving reduced salaries.

Speculation is rife that Petra Jaya MP Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, who is Gabungan Parti Sarawak’s (GPS) parliamentary chief whip, will be appointed deputy prime minister.

Sources also said the Cabinet is likely to comprise 30% from Pakatan Harapan, Barisan Nasional (20% to 30%), with Sabah, Sarawak and other allies making up the rest of its members.

It is learnt that Barisan deputy chairman Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan, or Tok Mat, is also a forerunner for the DPM post.

On the campaign trail, Anwar, who is Pakatan’s chairman, said the party would be appointing two DPMs should the coalition win GE15. Its manifesto pledged to appoint one from Peninsular Malaysia and one from East Malaysia.

According to National Professors Council senior fellow Dr Jeniri Amir, Tok Mat is a likely candidate for the post as he is seen as “mature, rational and stable”.

“You need the right people for the right portfolio. Tok Mat is considered a moderate politician who is well liked by the Malays and non-Malays. However, the Cabinet cannot be a quota-based system reflecting the political parties, as technocrats and academicians should also be included to ensure it is balanced.

“With GPS in the picture, Pakatan will have to fulfil what is agreed upon between them. Fadilah is definitely a hardworking minister and perfect for the No.2 position,” he told The Star yesterday.

Political analyst James Chin concurred that Fadilah is suitable for the No.2 position.

“I can say that Fadilah is the most likely candidate for the deputy prime minister post, but Anwar has not stopped building the coalition and, as such, it is too early to predict the Cabinet list. Anwar will have to come up with the list soon, perhaps by Monday, because the stock market opens on Tuesday and it will have an impact.

“We may see some party presidents and deputies being given deputy minister posts because the Cabinet already has PKR and DAP to fill the Chinese and Indian quotas,” said the University of Tasmania’s professor of Asian Studies.

On the Finance Minister post, Chin said Titiwangsa MP Datuk Seri Johari Ghani and PKR deputy president Rafizi Ramli (Pandan MP) are forerunners for the position.

Johari and Rafizi are qualified chartered accountants.

Universiti Sains Malaysia senior lecturer Dr Azmil Mohd Tayeb said a lean Cabinet would be a challenge for Anwar due to the number of component parties in the unity government.

He said leaders facing court cases must be excluded from Cabinet posts, and added that “Anwar must give the impression that this government is serious about corruption and reforms”.

Political pundit Dr Tunku Mohar Tunku Mohd Mokhtar of the International Islamic University Malaysia said there is likely to be a proportionality of component members in the Cabinet.

He is not ruling out the possibility of a finance minister from Pakatan Harapan.

Tony Blair Institute for Global Change managing director Jalil Rasheed suggested a smaller but more efficient Cabinet without the appointment of deputy ministers.

“If we are going to have two to three Deputy PMs, they should double up as Coordinating Ministers (alongside other senior Ministers) that overlook specific areas like infrastructure, security, national development and the economy.

“Government agencies under each ministry should be examined to determine if they are under the relevant ministries.

“Bring back (the) relevance of the Economic Planning Unit to be a one-stop centre for everything economic development so there’s ownership of all initiatives and tracking/monitoring of projects,” the former CEO of Berjaya Corp and Permodalan Nasional Bhd wrote on his Twitter yesterday.

The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs CEO Tricia Yeoh said Pakatan should remain true to its anti-corruption cause by not appointing those with pending court cases in the Cabinet.

“Ideally, those who are in the court cluster should not be part of the Cabinet,” she said.

“What we want are professionals who have relevant experience backed by relevant qualifications.”

However, Yeoh said a unity government could be confusing as it is important to have an Opposition to ensure checks and balances.

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