Malaysia PM retains finance minister, senior figures in cabinet
KUALA LUMPUR (MALAYSIA) – Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob unveiled his cabinet on Friday, re-appointing the finance minister along with several other figures from the previous administration, as he looks to restore stability after months of political turmoil.
Ismail Sabri was sworn in as prime minister last week, succeeding Muhyiddin Yassin who had resigned after failing to cling onto a razor-thin majority in parliament.
He takes charge as public anger grows over how the government has been unable to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases and support an economy battered by extended lockdowns, with the central bank slashing growth forecast twice this year.
Ismail Sabri named as finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz, who also held the post in Muhyiddin’s administration.
He also named four senior ministers to head the international trade, defence, works and education portfolios, all of whom had served in the previous government.
“The formulation of this cabinet is a re-formulation based on the current situation, in order to maintain stability and prioritising the interests and safety of the Malaysian people above all,” Ismail Sabri said in a televised address.
The Southeast Asian nation has the highest per capita COVID-19 infection rate in the region, with more than 1.6 million reported cases, including 15,211 deaths.
On Thursday, it reported a daily record of 24,599 new coronavirus cases and 393 fatalities.
Vaccination rates, however, have ramped up. Nearly half of Malaysia’s 32 million population are fully vaccinated, including 60.2% of all adults.
Ismail Sabri’s appointment saw the return of his party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), to the top office, after it was defeated in a 2018 election amid widespread corruption allegations.
He is Malaysia’s third prime minister since the 2018 election, after UMNO pulled its backing for Muhyiddin last month, citing his failure to manage the pandemic.