Anwar needs experienced cabinet members, pundits say

Noel Achariam

PM Anwar Ibrahim and his deputy Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at the announcement of a cabinet reshuffle on December 11, 2023. Political analysts say Anwar is reinforcing his cabinet with more experienced politicians to address any shortcomings in his administration. – PMO handout pic, December 13, 2023.

PRIME Minister Anwar Ibrahim has reinforced his cabinet with more experienced politicians to address any shortcomings in his administration, political observers said.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia lecturer Mazlan Ali said the cabinet reshuffle was very timely because after a year, there are weaknesses that needed to be fixed.

This, he said, was addressed by means switching portfolios and including former ministers like Umno’s Johari Abdul Ghani, Amanah’s Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, Gobind Singh Deo from DAP and others.

“The inclusion of experienced ex-ministers is aimed at boosting the strength of the cabinet.

“This does not mean the former ministers were not good. The inclusion of the former ministers is expected to help PMX (Anwar) strengthen policies and the administration,” he said.

Mazlan said Anwar’s administration was still a “compact cabinet” despite the addition of new ministers and deputies.

“This cabinet is still compact. It has only 60 members against 70 in former prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s administration and 74 during Muhyiddin Yassin’s era.”

The revamped cabinet has 31 ministers with 29 deputies. Anwar’s old cabinet had 28 ministers assisted by 27 deputy ministers.

Yesterday, Johari Abdul Ghani was appointed plantation and commodities minister while Dzulkefly returned as health minister.

Johari was formerly finance minister II and Dzulkefly was the health minister in the first Pakatan Harapan government.

Employees’ Provident Fund CEO Amir Hamzah Azizan was given the post of finance minister II while Gobind will lead the Digital Ministry after the Communications and Digital Ministry was split.

Fahmi Fadzil is now the communications minister.

Mazlan said the separation of the Communications and Digital Ministry was necessary to realise that digitalisation was very important.

“Everyone is talking about digital and artificial intelligence, so the ministers need to focus on these very important disciplines.”

Meanwhile, International Islamic University Malaysia’s political science lecturer Tunku Mohar Tunku Mohd Mokhtar believes the new cabinet will address some of the criticisms of the previous cabinet.

“It was assuring when PMX brought back MPs with experience as ministers or deputies, such as Johari Abdul Ghani, Dzulkefly, Noraini Ahmad and Gobind.”

Noraini was named the new deputy women, family, and community development minister, while former human resources minister M. Kulasegaran was named deputy law and institutional reform minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.

Tunku Mohar also said the appointment of Amir as second finance minister is timely as someone with expertise and experience should be tasked with helping the country manage its finance and recover the economy.

“Only one of the previous ministers (V. Sivakumar) was dropped, but it came as no surprise considering the controversies in the Human Resources Ministry.

“This cabinet looks better than the one it replaced.”

As for additional ministers, Tunku Mohar referred to what Anwar had said: “it was a matter of necessity”.

On the split of the Communications and Digital Ministry, he said it was necessary as information constantly involves delivery to the masses.

“While digital aspects have a lot to do with industrial regulations, with the advent of information and communication technology as well as artificial intelligence, the Digital Ministry requires a specific organisation of its own,” Tunku Mohar added. – December 13, 2023.

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