HOW WILL THE CABINET LINE-UP LOOK LIKE?
All eyes will be on who Mr Ismail Sabri names in the key posts – especially the deputy prime minister, as well as the health, finance and education portfolios.
He told the media on Monday that he would announce his line-up later in the week, but he made clear that opposition politicians will not be appointed Cabinet ministers.
This came amid suggestions on the feasibility of a unity government, with certain opposition MPs sharing Cabinet portfolios with those in government.
Hence, Mr Ismail Sabri will likely be picking his Cabinet members from among the 114 lawmakers who support him as prime minister.
These parties in the ruling government include the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition. BN comprises Mr Ismail Sabri’s UMNO with 38 seats, the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) with two MPs as well as the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) and the Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah with one seat each.
Among the 38 UMNO lawmakers is veteran lawmaker Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah who abstained from backing Mr Ismail.
Also within the government is the PN coalition. Mr Muhyiddin’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) has 31 MPs, Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) has 18 MPs and Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku Rakyat Sabah has one MP.
Parti Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) with 18 MPs and Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) with one MP are allies to PN but not officially part of the coalition. Four independent candidates have also reportedly supported Mr Ismail Sabri as prime minister.
Dr Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow with the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, told CNA that Mr Ismail Sabri is “facing a dilemma” in picking his Cabinet line-up.
He said that on one hand, there are calls for Mr Ismail Sabri to pick “a war Cabinet” that is small, nimble and streamlined, filled with around 10 ministers who are “professional and proven to be good policymakers” to tackle the pandemic and revive the economy.
However, Dr Oh noted if Mr Ismail Sabri does this, he would have fewer Cabinet posts to placate his political allies, some of whom have lofty political ambitions.
“So then if you don’t have enough posts, these ambitious figures will not be happy and the boat will be rocked again,” Dr Oh said, citing how UMNO had played a key part in leading to Mr Muhyiddin’s resignation.
Some 15 UMNO MPs withdrew their support for Mr Muhyiddin’s government early this month, and this was one of the main factors that led to the collapse of Mr Muhyiddin’s administration.
Dr Wong Chin Huat, a political scientist from Sunway University said that Mr Ismail Sabri must learn from the “failures” of Mr Muhyiddin’s government and do things differently.
He opined that Mr Ismail Sabri should pick a smaller-sized Cabinet, with less than 60 ministers and deputy ministers.
After he was appointed in March last year, Mr Muhyiddin announced a Cabinet with 70 posts. This drew criticism from the opposition and some netizens who said it was big and oversized.
“Another failing Cabinet will ensure that all parties in government be punished by angry voters,” said Dr Wong.
He also suggested that Mr Ismail Sabri reappoint individual ministers who performed well in the previous administration, such as UMNO’s Khairy Jamaluddin who served as minister of science, technology and innovation as well as coordinating minister of the national COVID-19 immunisation programme.
Source: Channel News Asia