Leaner Cabinet on the cards


Photo: KAMARUL ARIFFIN/TheStar

PUTRAJAYA: The new Cabinet could feature a leaner line-up and ministers might have their salaries reduced, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

He said the proposal to slash the salaries of ministers and reduce the size of the Cabinet is currently being discussed and his line-up of ministers should be unveiled soon.

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“The size of the Cabinet will surely be smaller and I’m asking new ministers to agree with my proposal to lower their salaries.

“This is still in the process of discussion and preparation,” said Anwar in his first press conference at Perdana Putra after clocking in as the nation’s 10th Prime Minister here yesterday.

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He added that his main priority now is to address the rising cost of living.

“There are positive developments such as the strength of the ringgit and the stock market presently, this shows confidence in government administration.

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“But, for now, I feel that priority should be given to the cost of living and rising prices of goods that are burdening the people,” he said.

Anwar added that he has ordered government agencies to come up with immediate measures and hold a meeting, the latest by Monday.

“I believe that with the commitment of the civil service, they know that our main task is to reduce the burden faced by the people,” he said.

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Meanwhile, Anwar said Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor has informed him that Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) will officially join the unity government, adding that this gives the new unity government a two-thirds parliamentary majority.

“This shows that we have exceeded the two-thirds support by MPs that will foster political stability.

“We can focus our attention on efforts to upholding the country and strengthening the economy,” he added.

A two-thirds majority requires the support of at least 148 MPs out of the 222 seats in Parliament.

Yesterday, Anwar officially commenced duties as prime minister at Perdana Putra and was received at 9.55am by Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali.

Donning a baju Melayu complete with samping, the 75-year-old leader clocked in at his office on the fifth floor of the Prime Minister’s Office in Bangunan Perdana Putra.

Together with Mohd Zuki, Anwar chaired a meeting with top civil servants.

After his press conference, Anwar proceeded to have lunch and meet locals in Presint 8 at noon before performing his Friday prayers at Masjid Putra, where about 3,000 Muslims had congregated.

The crowd chanted “reformasi” as Anwar left the mosque.

Speaking to reporters when met at the mosque, Anwar said he hasn’t decided whether to helm the finance minister portfolio or not.

“We will look into all possibilities and so far, I haven’t considered this,” he added.

Asked about his first day as Prime Minister, Anwar said there are many pending issues that have to be resolved.

“Today is good but we were busy with several big issues that have to be looked into,” he added.

Anwar was the finance minister and also deputy to the then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad before being sacked in 1998.

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