Malaysia's new Cabinet: PM Ismail retains Zafrul as finance minister, names Khairy health minister

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has retained Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Aziz as finance minister, but left the deputy premiership post empty, taking a leaf out of predecessor Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s book.

The newly minted premier unveiled his Cabinet on Friday (Aug 27) morning, with his own Umno party dominating the line-up.

Former Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin will be helming the Ministry of Health. Under the previous Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration, Mr Khairy was also the coordinating minister of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.

With his appointment as the new Health Minister, the Rembau MP replaces Datuk Seri Adham Baba who led the ministry when PN was in power. Dr Adham, meanwhile, will now take over Mr Khairy’s old portfolio.

Several senior ministers from the previous administration were also retained, such as International Trade and Industry Minister Azmin Ali, Works Minister Fadillah Yusof, Education Minister Radzi Jidin and Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.

“I hope the appointment of this Cabinet will give new confidence for the country to rise up and unite against Covid-19, as well as liberating the Malaysian families from misery as a result of this pandemic,” Datuk Seri Ismail said in a national televised announcement.

“I will make sure this Cabinet emphasises a high performance work culture. Thus, every ministry needs to make short-term and long-term planning and achieve the target. For that, each ministry needs to prove their achievements in the first 100 days (in office),” he added.

Overall, there are 31 ministers and 38 deputies in the new Cabinet.

The new Cabinet line-up was announced a week after Datuk Seri Ismail was installed as Malaysia’s ninth premier, following the collapse of the PN administration on Aug 16.

The new ministers will be sworn in on Monday.

The similarity of Mr Ismail’s Cabinet to PN’s line-up has prompted the opposition to question the rationale behind it.

DAP lawmaker Hannah Yeoh tweeted: “Just the same old composition of #KerajaanGagal (failed government). Same politicians rotating offices in Putrajaya. Ismail Sabri’s Cabinet is nothing more inspiring than Muhyiddin’s Cabinet.”

She also questioned the omission of outgoing Lower House deputy speaker Azalina Othman Said from the newly announced line-up.

“Children will have no reliable spokesperson and how can Azalina be excluded? I now want Ismail Sabri to make Azalina speaker for greater check and balance.”  Ms Azalina has been  championing women and children’s rights.

Key appointments

Senior Minister (International Trade and Industry): Azmin Ali (Bersatu)
Deputy: Lim Ban Hong (MCA)

Senior Minister (Defence): Hishammuddin Hussein (Umno)
Deputy: Ikmal Hisham Abdul Aziz (Bersatu)

Senior Minister (Works): Fadillah Yusof (GPS)
Deputy: Arthur Joseph Kurup (PBRS)

Senior Minister (Education): Mohd Radzi Md Jidin (Bersatu)
Deputies: Mah Hang Soon (MCA), Eddin Syazlee Shith (Bersatu)

Finance Minister: Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz
Deputies: Mohd Shahar Abdullah (Umno), Yamani Hafez Musa (Bersatu)

Health Minister: Khairy Jamaluddin (Umno)
Deputies: Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali (Bersatu), Aaron Ago Dagang (GPS)

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister: Adham Baba (Umno)
Deputy: Ahmad Amzad Hashim (PAS)

Home Minister: Hamzah Zainuddin (Bersatu)
Deputies: Ismail Mohamed Said (Umno), Jonathan Yassin (Bersatu)

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