THE cabinet announced by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday does not reflect the change the people hoped for before the 14th general election in 2018, said lawyer and activist Ambiga Sreenevasan.
Of particular concern to her is the reform agenda set in motion by the former Pakatan Harapan administration.
She questioned if those reforms will now come to an end with the appointment of the new cabinet.
“Maybe if Perikatan Nasional pushes through the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission Act and the repeal of some oppressive legislation, I may change my mind,” Ambiga told The Malaysian Insight.
“First, I would like to say that this cabinet does not reflect the change we all so painstakingly worked to bring. So, forgive us if some of us are not celebrating,” said the former Bersih chairman.
Ambiga also noted the cabinet doesn’t reflect the diversity of Malaysia.
“The cabinet does not reflect the diversity of Malaysia at all. I am concerned for minority communities, and whether our unity and cohesiveness as a nation may be undermined.
“I question also if some members qualify as clean. Perhaps the PM had few choices.
“It is good that the more obvious cases who are facing charges are not there but, as far as I am concerned, the jury is out on this cabinet,” Ambiga added.
With 32 ministers and 38 deputies, it was a return of a number of old faces and PAS after an absence of more than 45 years.
No deputy prime minister was appointed. Instead there will be four senior ministers: Mohamed Azmin Ali (international trade and industry), Ismail Sabri Yaakob (defence), Fadillah Yusof (works) and Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin (education).
This cabinet was set up after the fall of the 22-month-old PH government on February 24 when Bersatu, led by Muhyiddin, pulled out of the coalition.
Muhyiddin then joined forces with Umno, PAS and a faction from PKR led by Azmin to form PN.
Transparency International Malaysia president Muhammad Mohan lauded Muhyiddin for choosing a cabinet without politicians on trial or suspected of corruption.
“Nevertheless, we should give them all a chance to perform and deliver results in their respective ministries and declare their KPIs transparently,” he said.
“One important message from TI-Malaysia is all those appointed should execute their duties diligently with honesty, integrity and professionalism.”
Muhammad said the watchdog group had hoped for more technocrats in the cabinet, which would have boosted public confidence.
Activist Siti Kasim said there is a need for a decisive and strong government and sound economic action to stop the nation from “falling off the cliff”, adding that this is a real and imminent threat.
“This is for all intents and purposes an Umno government. Some of the ministers named seemed well intentioned, such as Mustapa Mohamed (minister in Prime Minister’s Department for economics), and a good sprinkle of Sabah and Sarawak representation,” she said.
National Patriots Association communications director capt (rtd) Dr Wong Ang Peng said in view of the current global economic slowdown, ministers may have to learn the ropes soon.
“Many of the ministers are new or assuming new portfolios. As such they have to learn the ropes. It will take some time, up to at least six months, to learn and be familiar with the job,” he said.
“This is not a normal time where the economy is booming and funds easily available,” he added.
With oil prices tumbling, primary export earnings shrinking, downturn in the tourism industry, he said many businesses will go bankrupt.
“These new cabinet members will be in for a shock. It is not a holiday for them.
“The integrity of several members of the cabinet is in question. Many of them are only good at playing politics.
“During these hard times, it will be even worse. Time and integrity do not favour our nation in the current political scenario.
“Unfortunately, our nation and all Malaysians will have to suffer. I cry for our beloved Malaysia,” said the veteran.
Zahid gives thumbs up to new cabinet
PRIME Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s new cabinet will be able to reduce the trust deficit the people have of the government, said Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
“We take note of the voices from the grassroots and the need for Perikatan Nasional to restore the confidence of the people,” he said in a statement, adding his party will remain support of the new cabinet.
Earlier today, Muhyiddin announced a cabinet of 32 ministers and 38 deputies.
Speaking about his own absence from the cabinet, Zahid said he wanted to concentrate on preparing Umno for the next general election.
“I will also clear my name in court from the criminal cases filed against me,” he added.
The Bagan Datok MP faces 47 charges in court, 12 of which involve criminal breach of trust, eight corruption charges and 27 money laundering charges.
Meanwhile several Umno leaders who had been co-opted into the cabinet thanked Zahid for giving them the opportunity to serve.
“This is a huge trust placed on me and I will do my best to ensure the people’s confidence are back with the government,” said Higher Education Minister Noraini Ahmad.
Meanwhile, Sembrong MP Hishammuddin Hussein said his appointment as foreign minister was a major task entrusted upon him.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT