Guan Eng, Muhyiddin, Mat Sabu get top posts

The prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, announcing the three most senior members of his Cabinet today.

PETALING JAYA: Lim Guan Eng, Muhyiddin Yassin and Mohamad Sabu were named today as the three senior ministers of prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s new Cabinet, the first of his new Pakatan Harapan government.

A “Council of Elders” or eminent persons were named, which included his trusted ally, former finance minister Daim Zainuddin; billionaire tycoon Robert Kuok; former Bank Negara governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz; former Petronas president Hassan Merican; and economist and social critic KS Jomo.

Mahathir said the four parties in PH would be asked to submit names for his consideration to fill seven remaining positions out of a list of 10 that he had announced yesterday.

In today’s announcement, he named:

Guan Eng to be finance minister, the first Malaysian Chinese to hold the powerful position in almost five decades since Tun Tan Siew Sin of MCA relinquished the post.

Muhyiddin as minister of home affairs, in charge of internal security, which includes the police and immigration, and which also oversees the issuance of publishing permits for newspapers and magazines, and censorship of printed materials.

Mohamad Sabu to take the defence portfolio, responsible for external security with political oversight of the armed forces – the army, navy and air force. His appointment is a critical one in view of recent criticisms about the sale of military land and the redevelopment of the former air base in Sungai Besi, Kuala Lumpur.

Mahathir made the announcement today after a three-hour meeting of the Pakatan Harapan presidential council comprising heads of the four parties in the coalition, PKR, DAP, PPBM and Parti Amanah Negara.

He said the most senior positions in his Cabinet were being filled by the leaders of the four parties.

PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail had already been named as deputy prime minister after he took his oath of office as prime minister. Guan Eng is secretary-general of DAP, the most senior executive position in his party; Muhyiddin is president of PPBM, of which Mahathir is chairman; and Mohamad Sabu is president of Amanah.

Mahathir was careful to note that there were no rankings among the three newly-appointed ministers save that they held the weightiest positions in any government.

He said the council of elders or eminent persons was created because “We realised that most of us here have little or no experience in government. So we want people with expertise pertaining to administration and the decision making process.”

Mahathir said he did not want a “huge Cabinet”. It would comprise 25 ministers, but would later include members from Sabah and Sarawak.

“We have a place for Sabah and Sarawak so the number will increase in terms of government parties,” he said.

The remaining ministerial portfolios of the first 10 to be filled are: Education, Rural Development, Foreign Affairs, Public Works, Transport, Economy; and Multimedia and Science.

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