Mar 13, 2008

PM Abdullah to unveil new cabinet next week

It is a smaller cabinet this time than the one formed in 2004 because of the reduced number of Barisan MPs this time around. Both MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting and MIC president Datuk Seri Samy Vellu have declined any Cabinet post. Gerakan is also unlikely to get any Cabinet position as its acting president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon was defeated together with other party top guns. It now has only two MPs. All the Barisan Nasional leaders have submitted lists of potential ministers to the PM.

KUALA LUMPUR : Malaysia's Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is expected to unveil a new streamlined cabinet as soon as Monday, reducing the number of minister posts after a shocking upset in the recent general elections, the Star reported Thursday.

The daily also cited sources as saying that posts would be trimmed in line with the smaller government presence in parliament, where it now has 140 lawmakers compared to 198 in the outgoing administration.

Mr Abdullah told state news agency Bernama that the new cabinet would reflect the ruling coalition's power-sharing concept and will include all communities.

The ruling Barisan Nasional coalition lost its two-thirds majority for the first time in four decades, and conceded four more states to a resurgent opposition in March 8 polls.

The previous cabinet had a whopping 32 ministers, 39 deputy ministers and 20 parliamentary secretaries, with jobs handed out to many of the 14 race-based parties that make up the Barisan Nasional.

The large cabinet had been criticised as unwieldy and wasteful, but The Star said Abdullah faced a headache in reducing positions while still keeping the coalition members happy.

It said some ministries could be merged.

Political observers have also said that Mr Abdullah will have difficulties finding ethnic minority candidates to fill prominent posts, after the Chinese and Indian parties in the coalition were punished in the elections.

The only Indian cabinet minister in the outgoing administration, Samy Vellu, lost his parliamentary seat which he had held since 1974.

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