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PM Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak announced the new Cabinet line up
yesterday (9 Apr ’09). Overall, it is a slightly “leaner” Cabinet as the
number of Ministers and Ministries are down to 29 and 25 respectively,
from 31 and 27 previously.
PM retains the Finance Minister post, keeping the “tradition” set since
Tun Dr Mahathir’s time. However, Second Finance Minister is now
Datuk Ahmad Husni Mohammad Hanadzlah, replacing Tan Sri Nor
Mohamed Yakcop, who moved to the Economic Planning Unit as
Minister at PM’s Department.
Other major changes and movements include Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin
being moved to the Education Ministry from International Trade &
Industry (MITI), while all three of the three newly-elected UMNO Vice
Presidents got new portfolios – Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein (Home
Ministry from Education), Datuk Zahid Hamidi (Defence from PM’s
Office) and Datuk Shafie Apdal (Rural Development from Unity,
Heritage, Culture & Arts). The new MITI is Datuk Mustapa Mohamad.
Big surprises come from the UMNO Youth side following the inclusion
of Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir (who lost in the UMNO Youth Head election
to Khairy Jamaluddin) as the Deputy MITI, and Datuk Razali Ibrahim,
UMNO Youth No. 2 as Deputy Youth & Sports Minister. Notable
absentee is from UMNO Youth as well i.e. the Head, Khairy Jamaluddin.
Key comebacks include Tan Sri Datuk Dr Koh Tsu Koon as Minister in
the PM’s Department, Senator Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussein who is
back as as Deputy Finance Minister and newly-elected UMNO Women
Head, Datuk Shahrizat Jalil, who also return to as Women, Family &
Community Development Minister.
Major survivors are Dato’ Seri Dr. Rais Yatim and Datuk Seri Mohd
Khaled Nordin who failed in their bids to be UMNO Vice Presidents.
Overall, in line with our earlier expectation that the outcome of UMNO’s
election is not the major determinant of the Cabinet line up as well as
the outlook of more significant representations by East Malaysians in
the Cabinet, although we were a bit disappointed that the doors were
not opened for more professionals/technocrats in the administration.
There will be no “honeymoon” for new PM and his Cabinet, who have to
perform and deliver on the economic and social front to regain the
political support to BN amid the “status quo” domestic political
landscape post-Mar ’08 General Election and the last five by-elections.