No bloated Cabinet, please

PETALING JAYA: Public speculation is at a fever-pitch as several names are being bandied about for Cabinet posts in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s new unity government.

The frontrunners for the two deputy prime minister posts are Barisan Nasional deputy chairman Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan (Umno) and Gabungan Parti Sarawak’s (GPS) Datuk Seri Fadilah Yusof.

Names suggested for senior portfolios include Umno’s Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani and Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin, as well as PKR’s Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad.

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Analysts said that ideally, the Cabinet should not have more than 25 members and should no longer be dominated by those above 50 years old.

“The question is whether the Prime Minister will be able to promote gender balance by having at least 30% women as ministers,” said Universiti Sains Malaysia’s political expert Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian in an interview yesterday.

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He said there was talk that besides a deputy prime minister post, Barisan also wanted the Home Ministry and other portfolios.

As for calls not to include those with pending court cases, he said that with Barisan chairman Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi being instrumental in helping deliver support for Anwar, this might pose a tricky question of how to fit him in the line-up.

Ahmad Zahid and others in the so-called “court cluster” could get their appointments after they had cleared their names in court, he suggested.

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Prof Sivamurugan said the names of former ministers under the previous Pakatan and Barisan administrations were also being mentioned, including Amanah’s Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (health) and Johari (finance).

He said the new faces were likely to be PKR information chief Fahmi Fadzil as communications and multimedia minister and party vice-president Rafizi Ramli as economic affairs minister.

“It is regardless which bloc they come from.

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“More importantly, there is a ceasefire on political issues and making unnecessary comments.

“Only Anwar should speak on behalf of the Cabinet.

“The others should be team players and allow the captain to lead,” he added.

Political think tank Ilham Centre’s executive director Hisomuddin Bakar said Anwar was likely to appoint leaders of the different coalitions to senior posts such as finance, defence, home, education, economic affairs, and international trade.

“Senior leaders such as Rafizi, (Amanah president) Mohamad Sabu and (DAP secretary-general) Anthony Loke from Pakatan, and Khaled and Johari from Barisan, could be considered for these senior posts.

“Others who should be included are (Warisan president) Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal and (GPS secretary-general) Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi to represent the Borneo bloc,” he suggested.

Hisomuddin also agreed that former ministers like Dr Dzulkefly and former agriculture and agro-based industry minister Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub (Amanah) could be reappointed to their posts.

“This will help save time as they will better understand their portfolios,” he said, adding that Yeo Bee Yin (DAP) might helm her previous portfolio as energy, technology, science, environment and climate change minister.

He cited Nik Nazmi as a possible youth and sports minister.

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