PM Muhyiddin Yassin has finally announced his Cabinet line-up and while certain scandal-tainted leaders are, thankfully, missing, the new team does definitely looks more Bumi-Malaysia than Malaysian-Malaysia. Elsewhere in today’s newsletter, the Perak state government finally falls, and the number of Covid-19 cases in the country spikes to 117.

The MY Team

Inilah barisan kita

So Muhyiddin Yassin kept his promise, left out politicians with on-going court cases – he says everyone on the list passed background checks – and largely stuck to rewarding friends and allies with appointments. However, despite generally sticking to the script, the Prime Minister still managed to turn in one major surprise and with his Cabinet announcement yesterday – he left out naming the Deputy Prime Minister!!!

Since Merdeka, the Malaysian PM has always had a No. 2. Thus, the hot question in the run-up to yesterday’s announcement was who Moo would pick as his deputy. In the end though, to probably avoid a situation where he was seen to be favouring one party over the others in Perikatan Nasional, he went with no one and opted instead for four “senior ministers” – comprising former PKR deputy chief Azmin Ali, Ismail Sabri Yaakob (Umno), Fadillah Yusof (Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu/Gabungan Parti Sarawak) and Mohd Radzi Md Jidin (Bersatu) – to, at least according to him, assist in the carrying out of the PM’s duties and even chair Cabinet meetings when the cat’s away. 

The DPM’s post isn’t provided for in the Federal Constitution, mind you. So Moo is well within his rights to not appoint one. Still, one can’t help but wonder what the situation will be if something were to happen to the sitting PM (who, might we remind you, was battling cancer not so long ago). Would we see, for example, politicians once again making trips to and from the Istana claiming they have the numbers to take over the top job?

In any case, Azmin, who’s also been appointed International Trade and Industry Minister, must be pleased as punch that he’s so high up the food chain now following the “Sheraton Move”. And actually, so too must the PKR MPs who left with him considering that they have almost all been given posts in the new government.

Anyhoo, here’re some key takeaways from PM Moo’s announcement:

  • Muhyiddin’s Cabinet is super huge! In comparison to Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s team, which featured 27 ministers and 26 deputies, Moo’s enlisted a whopping 70 people to fill 32 ministerial and 38 deputy minister posts.
     
  • Of the 70 slots, 18 have been handed to Umno, and despite Najib Razak and Ahmad Zahid Hamidi being left out of the equation, the new government does see the return of Jib’s cousin Hishammuddin Hussein as Foreign Minister and The Divine Man Bun ex-Umno Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin as Science, Technology and Innovation Minister.
     
  • Despite a larger Cabinet though, the female representation remains exactly the same as it was previously with a mere six women Cabinet ministers and four deputies. None of the nine is non-Muslim BTW.
     
  • This is a great Cabinet for Sabah and Sarawak, with Borneo politicians handed six ministerships and eight deputy minister posts, one which went to national party-hopping champion Jeffrey Kitingan. Here’s hoping they will successfully advocate for a better deal for their states.
     
  • PAS is back in the Federal Cabinet for the first time since 1977 when then party president, Mohd Asri Muda, headed the Land and Rural Development Ministry. Current party deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man has been appointed Environment Minister and secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan handed the law portfolio in the Prime Minister’s Department. PAS holding the law portfolio and having the deputy minister role in the Women and Family Ministry, could have big ramifications on laws and women’s/children’s rights moving forward. Only time will tell if this administration took us one step closer to theocracy.
     
  • MCA saw a return to the main table with the party’s two Wees – president Ka Siong and Tanjung Piai MP Jeck Seng – getting the Transport Minster post and Plantations and Commodities Deputy Minister I posts. 
     
  • Indian representation in Cabinet is down from five (six if you count former PM Maddey) to just two people of Indian descent (oh okay, three if you count new Youth and Sports Minister Reezal Merican Naina Merican).
     
  • All in all, non-Bumi representation has fallen through the floor. Though non-Bumis constitute about 30% of the population, their Cabinet representation in the Muhyiddin team stands at a pathetic 10%. It’s an even more pathetic 5.3% if you count only ministers, where non-Bumis account for just 2 of Muhyiddin’s 38-person team. In comparison, Mahathir’s team featured a 33% non-Bumi participation. 
     
  • As for the “experts” and “technocrats” which had been promised, meanwhile, the most obvious appointments which PM Moo will be banking on to shore up confidence in his administration are those of CIMB Group Holdings Bhd boss Tengku Zafrul Tengku Aziz as Finance Minister and Federal Territories mufti Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of religious affairs. It’s left to be seen, of course, how these two will fare in their respective jobs, but it does seem like Tengku Zafrul has the chops for his role while the PM certainly couldn’t have found a cooler cat than Zul.

So there you have it, folks – The Moo Cabinet. For the full list of appointments and a breakdown of who’s in and who’s out, go here and here. Or just check out Fahmi Reza’s pic, that’ll tell ya the story in a fraction of the time.

Generally it’s a great Cabinet if you’re male and Bumis, and kinda sucky for non-Bumis, women and the idea of succession planning. Despite the few bright spots, the lack of non-Bumiputera representation does make it seem like Malaysia has taken a couple of steps back from the progress made of the last couple of years.

Will it prove to be effective and efficient as he wants it to be? Will it fail? Only time will tell.

More dominoes fall

Eleven years on from the collapse of the Pakatan Rakyat-led Perak government on the back of defections, the state government’s fallen again. And once more defections have played a major, major part.

Yes, the collapse did seem inevitable once Moo Yasin was named PM. However, what no one could possibly have predicted was that once Menteri Besar Ahmad Faizal Azumu and his Bersatu colleague Zainol Fadzi Paharudin aligned themselves with the state’s PAS and Umno assemblymen and declared Perak for Perikatan Nasional that they’d see several other people, including two DAP men, severing ties with Pakatan Harapan. 

Anyway, in a nutshell, the basic story is:

  1. Perak, which was formerly a Pakatan-controlled state is now gonna be Perikatan-run.
  2. At least for now, the former MB is also the current MB.
  3. The defections and realignments mean that the breakdown of seats in the controlling half of the 59-seat assembly is now 25 to Umno, four to Bersatu and three to PAS. Plus, the new government has three independents (two formerly from DAP and one from Amanah) supporting it.
  4. Pakatan, meanwhile, has a mere 24 seats. 

MB Ahmad Faizal, as well as the guys who just split from Pakatan, claim, of course, that they’re no traitors and all this hip-hopping and horse-trading has been done for the good of the people. But really, how is pissing all over the people’s mandate obtained from yet another election good for the people?  

Incidentally, down south in Melaka, after days of negotiations that saw the state’s Bersatu reps jump back and forth between Pakatan and Perikatan, the new government finally settled on Umno’s Lendu assemblyman Sulaiman Ali as the new Chief Minister. The guy has been the Lendu rep since 2013.

What goes up

The number of Covid-19 cases in the country has gone up again, and there is every likelihood that we may be looking at way more than the current 117 in the next few days if, that is, the close contacts of the latest victims also test positive.

Be that as it may, the Health Ministry has confirmed that only one of the new cases – Patient 101, who is likely to have contracted the disease while on business in Iran – is imported, while the other victims, including a non-executive director of an AmBank Group subsidiary company, appear to have been infected locally. 

In worse news, meanwhile, the local markets, which were already hit bad thanks to the all the political upheaval here, were battered yet again yesterday over growing concern of how Covid-19 will impact the global economy. The FBM KLCI was down 58.94 points or 3.97% to 1,424.16 at the close of trade, the lowest its been since November 2011, while the ringgit fell against all major currencies, ending the day at 4.2130 against the US dollar.

It’s all looking really dire, to be honest. Nevertheless, we do finally have a health minister. And the new doc, Dr Adham Baba, says he’s looking to emulate the composure of the previous guy in charge, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, in handling the crisis. Also, newly-appointed Tourism Minister Nancy Shukri says she’s committed to coming up with effective solutions and economic measures which will, at the very least, help the tourism sector. Nancy didn’t say, of course, what she plans to do, but given that the industry is expected to cost the country RM5.4 billion, she’d better reveal whatever she’s got up her sleeve pronto.

The number of Covid-19 cases internationally, by the way, currently stands at 114,223 with 4,005 deaths recorded.

This and that

A wee bit more happened on Monday, but as this newsletter was threatening to become a novel we’ll keep the highlights short:

  • Britain’s Tesco is selling its Thailand and Malaysia businesses to Thailand’s CP Group for US$10.6 billion (RM44.63 billion). The supermarket chain has 2,000 stores in the two countries.
     
  • Azam Baki has replaced Latheefa Koya as Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission boss. The dude, who has been with the anti-graft body for over 30 years, was previously MACC’s head of operations. 
     
  • AG Idrus Harun has given former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram the greenlight to continue as an ad hoc prosecutor in four cases linked to 1Malaysia Development Berhad, including the ones featuring former PM Jibby Razak. 
     
  • The court in Rosmah Mansor’s on-going graft trial heard on Monday how butlers helped carry bags of cash into Seri Perdana in December 2016 after her aide Rizal Mansor said he had something to pass to Rosie.

“Wherever you have an efficient government you have a dictatorship.”

- Harry S. Truman -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Oil prices collapsed on Monday thanks to Saudia Arabia launching a price war against Russia. Saudi’s move came after talks between OPEC and Russia broke down last week when the latter refused to hold back production.The price war also resulted yesterday in a halt to trading on Wall Street after stocks plunged more than 7%.
     
  • Max von Sydow, the Swedish actor of such classics as The Seventh Seal and The Exorcist, has died. He was 90.
     
  • The United States has begun withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan. The plan, which is part of an agreement with the Taliban, will see the US reducing its 12,000 – 13,000 troops currently in the country to 8,600 in 135 days.
     
  • The whole of Italy, like Israel, is to be put under lockdown as the countries attempt to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak. In Italy, the worst country hit after China, the death toll has skyrocketed from 97 to 463.

ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER

This weekday newsletter is brought to you by Trident Media, a group of Malaysian journalists with 60 years of combined media experience in four countries across TV, print and digital media.

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Trident Media · Seksyen 35 · Shah Alam, Selangor 40470 · Malaysia

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