Azmin to chair Cabinet in my absence, says Muhyiddin

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin with Ismail Sabri Yaakob (left) and Mohamed Azmin Ali (right) at a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya today.

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin says Mohamed Azmin Ali who was appointed as one of four senior ministers this week will chair the Cabinet whenever he is absent.

“Senior ministers are all equal,” he said at the Prime Minister’s Office here today.

“In my absence, Azmin will chair my Cabinet. If Azmin is absent, Ismail Sabri will chair.”

Azmin was appointed as international trade and industry minister while Ismail Sabri Yaakob was made defence minister.

The other senior ministers are Fadillah Yusof (works) and Mohd Radzi Md Jidin (education).

Muhyiddin further said he is willing to take a salary cut to reduce government spending, adding that he would be the first to take up this challenge in the newly-formed Cabinet.

This comes after criticisms that the bloated line-up would eat up into the government’s coffers.

“I will take up that challenge … for my salary to be cut by 5-10%. I can do it first. I think we (Cabinet members) can all do that.”

The newly minted PN government currently has 69 ministers and deputy ministers, considerably larger than the previous Pakatan Harapan’s combined total of 50.

This is after Muhyiddin introduced new portfolios, broke up some of the ministries, and appointed two deputy ministers for some of the ministries.

The much larger Cabinet has led many quarters to criticise Muhyiddin, claiming the move would only cost more money to the government.

Muhyiddin, however, defended his decision, saying it was necessary after taking into account all matters.

Citing the setting up of the national unity ministry as an example, Muhyiddin said the portfolio was particularly important for Malaysia to ensure national harmony.

“If there is a cost to do that, then we need to do that,” he said, adding that any additional funding required would be considered by the chief secretary to the government Mohd Zuki Ali.

All ministers to declare their assets

Muhyiddin further said his 30 ministers and 38 deputy ministers had been told to declare their assets to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission within a month.

During the previous PH administration, all ministers and deputy ministers had also declared their assets.

In December 2019, the then opposition leaders had opposed the decision to declare their assets after a motion was passed in the Dewan Rakyat.

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang had said his party’s MPs did not have to declare their assets as he believed the motion passed did not follow the law and Federal Constitution. What was more important, he had said, was sincerity.

Today, Muhyiddin said he wanted the “highest level” of integrity from his ministers when they started their work at their respective ministries.