Ministers aiming to bring fresh changes to their portfolios

PETALING JAYA: The newly-appointed ministers are not just eager to carry out their duties but are also looking to bringing fresh changes that will benefit the people.

One of them is Dr Zaliha Mustafa, who was left speechless when told of her appointment as Health Minister in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Cabinet line-up.

After getting over her shock, the Sekijang MP said she realised she had a tough road ahead of her to helm such an “important and huge portfolio.”

“I am deeply honoured to be appointed. I know it was done after much deliberation and Datuk Seri’s (Anwar) meeting with the health community, in which they suggested the ministry be headed by a healthcare professional.

“This is understandable, as they want someone who is aware of the needs and issues faced by the healthcare sector.

“I have a big challenge ahead to not only look into public health issues but also healthcare services, facilities and the running of the entire public health system,” she told The Star.

Dr Zaliha, a Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia medical graduate, had served as political secretary to former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail during the Pakatan Harapan administration.

Aside from addressing the issue of contract healthcare workers and looking at reforms within the sector, the 58-year-old said she wants to tackle the healthcare of women and children.

“I went on a few trips when I was working for Dr Wan Azizah and a visit to Qatar’s special women and children’s hospital left a deep impression on me. I want to look at the feasibility of setting up such a facility in Malaysia.

“The past three years have been focused on the Covid-19 pandemic. Moving forward, I want to re-examine the daily running of the ministry and also tackle issues that have been overlooked, such as promoting a healthy lifestyle and mental wellness,” said the mother of four.

Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, who is on his second tour of duty in the Higher Education Ministry, is aware of the challenges ahead.

The 64-year-old served in the same portfolio from 2008 to 2013.

“Helming the Higher Education Ministry will be a huge challenge as I must ensure the ministry functions in totality to face new challenges,” he said.

In a brief message after his appointment, Mohamed Khaled thanked the Prime Minister.

“I would also like to thank the leadership of the party (Umno) for allowing me to represent Barisan Nasional in this unity government,” he said.

It will also be Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub’s second stint in Cabinet as he had served as Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister during Pakatan’s previous 22 months in government.

The Pulai MP said he was thankful for another chance to serve.

“This is a unity government, and a lot of cooperation is surely needed to uphold the people’s aspirations and boost the country’s economy.

“I am ready to take on my new role to ensure a more sustainable cost of living and welfare for the people,” he said.

Agriculture and Food Security Minister Mohamad Sabu said he hopes to see the strengthening ringgit continue its trend to reduce the cost of food imports.

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“The change of government and the appointment of the Prime Minister have seen a sharp increase in our currency, and we hope it will continue to improve in the future.

“The cost of food imports will be cheaper if our currency continues to strengthen – that is our hope – and the increase is indeed incredible within 10 days of the general election (on Nov 19),” he added.

On the new Cabinet line-up, Mohamad said the Prime Minister had kept his promise of a leaner Cabinet involving only 28 ministers in his administration.

Local Government Development Minister Nga Kor Ming said he was humbled, grateful and honoured to be appointed a minister to serve the nation.

“I am aware of the fact that the higher the position, the heavier the responsibility.

“On our shoulders carry the hope of our nation – we must stand united to work as a strong team and put national interest above self.

“There is so much for us to accomplish, and I welcome all learned advice and guidance so we can work together to restore the glory for our nation. It’s time to start work,” he said when contacted.

Science and Technology Minister Chang Lih Kang thanked the Prime Minister and Tanjong Malim constituents for their support.

“I will do my best in shouldering the responsibility I have been entrusted with,” he said.

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