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(From right) Malaysian PM Anwar Ibrahim and his deputies Zahid Hamidi and Fadillah Yusof after the Cabinet’s swearing-in at the National Palace. --PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Malaysia’s new Cabinet sworn in as criticism swirls over controversial appointments

KUALA LUMPUR (The Straits Times/ANN) -- Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has continued to draw flak for his “kleptocrat” Cabinet as the new ministers were sworn in before the King on Saturday.
Political rivals and netizens have taken issue with his appointment of Umno president Zahid Hamidi as deputy prime minister, despite the latter facing 47 graft charges in court.
Mr Anwar has also been criticised for keeping the finance minister’s post for himself. His main rival, Perikatan Nasional (PN) chairman Muhyiddin Yassin, who is now opposition leader, said that this will lead to the centralisation of power and corruption.
“Anwar’s actions are akin to selling the nation’s dignity simply because of his desire to become prime minister,” Tan Sri Muhyiddin said on Saturday.
Mr Muhyiddin’s claim to the premiership was thwarted after he lost the support of several Umno MPs and coalitions that would have given him a parliamentary majority. The Umno-led Barisan Nasional was one of several coalitions that agreed to form a “unity government” with Mr Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan (PH) at the King’s urging, after Malaysia’s Nov 19 election resulted in a hung Parliament.
Mr Muhyiddin refused to join the unity government, choosing instead for PN to sit on the opposition bench.
Former international trade and industry minister Rafidah Aziz was among those who took issue with the appointment of former finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz as international trade and industry minister. The well-connected but first-time Umno candidate had lost at the polls when he ran in Kuala Selangor.
She said in what she called an “open letter” to Mr Anwar on Facebook: “There is that optics of scraping the barrel when you appointed someone who lost in the election... Where is the credibility?”
She also questioned Zahid’s appointment “as DPM, no less”, pointing out that he is awaiting the outcome of “an unbelievably long list” of corruption charges.
“Yes, some say one is presumed innocent until proven guilty. But if the person is finally found guilty, then you have to get a replacement DPM!” she wrote.


(Latest Update December 5, 2022)

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