UPDATES WITH DETAILS OF NEW CABINET, CHANGES HEADER AND DECK
By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ISTANBUL (AA) – Malaysia's Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim announced 27-member cabinet on Friday.
Two among the cabinet members will have the status of deputy prime minister, Anwar told a news conference in capital Kuala Lumpur.
Early today, Malaysia’s 10th prime minister had called King Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.
Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, chairman of National Front, or Barisan Nasional (BN) and Fadillah Yusof of Sarawak Parties Alliance (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) are the two deputy prime ministers.
Anwar, 75, was sworn-in as Malaysia’s 10th prime minister last month, after his Alliance of Hope, or Pakatan Harapan (PH), secured the most seats in parliament in the Nov. 19 general elections.
Despite failing to form a government on its own, Anwar stitched together a unity government with the BN, which has 30 lawmakers in the 222-seat parliament.
Ahmad Zahid is president of the United Malays National Organization (UNMO) which is part of the BN – the alliance which has proven pivotal to form the unity government.
Any party of coalition needs 112 to form a government in the Southeast Asian nation.
Besides being the chief executive of the Southeast Asian nation, Anwar will himself retain the portfolio of finance ministry while
Ahmad Zahid will be rural and regional development minister.
Fadillah has been given plantation industries and commodities minister portfolio.
Anwar’s rise to power marks a stunning comeback for a man who at the peak of his political career was suddenly sacked and jailed by the government of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad in the 1990s.
Once seen as a potential successor to Mahathir, he fell out with the former “iron man” over the handling of the Southeast Asian country’s economy during the famous Asian financial crisis.
Subsequently, he was convicted and jailed on corruption and sodomy charges, which were widely believed to be politically motivated.
His conviction was overturned in 2004, but he was sentenced to prison again in 2015 on a similar fresh charge.
He was pardoned by the king after Mahathir reconciled with him on the heels of a massive corruption scandal involving then-Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2018.
Mahathir and Ibrahim, later, joined hands and defeated Razak’s party in the 2018 elections, bringing the former to the Prime Minister's Office again.
However, the top job slipped from his hand again when a deal in which then-95-year-old Mahathir would hand over power to Ibrahim fell through in 2020.