KUALA LUMPUR, April 9, 2009 (AFP) – Malaysia’s new prime minister Najib Razak will unveil a new-look cabinet Thursday, with expectations for a slimmed-down line-up to help him push through promised reforms.
Party insiders and newspaper reports have said the cabinet will be reduced from the current 27 ministries and 32 ministers, with some ministries due for amalgamation.
Najib’s ruling party, the United Malays National Organisation, which leads the Barisan Nasional coalition, is expected to give up as many as four cabinet seats, according to the Star daily.
Its coalition partners have also been asked to make sacrifices as the cabinet is cut to an estimated 24 ministries with 27 ministers, it said.
Long-held conventions on rewarding high-ranking UMNO figures with a cabinet berth, and having representatives from each state in the line-up, may also be dumped.
“No longer will geographical considerations and victories at the party elections be major factors,” the Star quoted party officials as saying.
Najib is due to meet with Malaysia’s king to seek his consent before making the announcement at 0700 GMT.
Najib has unveiled an ambitious agenda to heal race relations in the multi-ethnic country and to overhaul UMNO, which was humbled in elections last year by voters who see it as corrupt and out of touch.
But the new premier was dealt a rebuke by voters Tuesday, losing two of three by-elections seen as a referendum on his leadership.
“The cabinet needs to be a slim one that is action-oriented and not aimed at pleasing those who want power,” political analyst and blogger Kadir Jasin told AFP.
“The new cabinet’s ability to bring change and govern means life or death for the ruling party, the government and Najib,” he added.
“Given the losses in the last general election, if Najib does not get the formula right, it may mean the end of everything.”
Source : AFP