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Thursday, April 9, 2009

No big changes in Najib’s Cabinet

By Leslie Lau - Consultant Editor, malaysianinsider

KUALA LUMPUR, April 9 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced his Cabinet of 28 ministers today, with many faces retained and Sabah emerging big winners with four members given senior portfolios.

But despite the expectations otherwise, there were only a sprinkling of new faces with many members of Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s team retaining their jobs albeit with different ministries.

The Cabinet was also marginally trimmed down even though a leaner Cabinet was expected.

Among the ministers dropped were Datuk Azalina Aziz, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, Tan Sri Amirsham Aziz, Datuk Ong Ka Chuan and Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, newly elected as Umno deputy president, was made deputy prime minister.

Influential Sabah lawmaker Datuk Anifah Aman was the most prominent new member of the Cabinet and was given the plum Foreign Ministry portfolio.

Datuk Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, as expected, returned to the Cabinet as the new women’s affairs minister, as did Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, who was made minister in the Prime Minister’s Department. Both of them will be appointed senators.

Another new face in the Cabinet is Raja Nong Chik, who was appointed Federal Territories minister.

Among the other prominent appointments were Muhyiddin as education minister and Najib himself remains the first finance minister.

Datuk Husni Hanadzlah was made the second finance minister.

Besides Anifah, the other three Sabah ministers are Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, Maximus Ongkili and Datuk Shafie Apdal.

Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein, who was elected Umno vice-president, was made the home minister while another Umno V-P Datuk Zahid Hamidi will be the defence minister.

Datuk Mustapa Mohamad was made the international trade and industry minister.

As expected, Khairy Jamaluddin, who was recently elected Umno Youth chief, was not offered a Cabinet post.

It was a major slap in the face for him as Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, whom he beat in the party polls, was made a deputy minister as was his deputy Youth chief Razali Ibrahim.

MCA also maintains its status quo of four ministers in the Cabinet with Datuk Kong Cho Ha as the new addition in place of Datuk Ong Ka Chuan.

In Najib's cabinet, two ministries were merged, one dissolved and another created today in order to streamline and make public service more effective.

Both the Information Ministry and the National Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage ministry have been combined into the new Information, Communications, Arts and Culture Ministry under Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water has been established under Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui to replace the former Ministry of Energy, Water and Communication.

The former Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Ministry has been dissolved.

The administration has 28 ministers and 40 deputies, a reduction of three ministers but an increase of two deputy ministers from Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's cabinet.

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