Scandal-mired party makes comeback in Malaysian cabinet

Agence France-Presse . Kuala Lumpur | Published: 01:54, Mar 10,2020


A crop of old faces from a scandal-mired Malaysian party were Monday given key ministerial posts after they returned to power following the collapse of a reformist government.

A coalition dominated by the country’s Muslim majority took power this month after the disintegration of the last government and the shock resignation of Mahathir Mohamad as premier.

Mahathir, 94, had sought to come back as prime minister after quitting, but lost out to low-profile ex-interior minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

A major component of Muhyiddin’s government is the United Malays National Organisation, the party of disgraced ex-leader Najib Razak, which was ejected from power at landmark elections in 2018.  Muhyiddin’s cabinet unveiled Monday included UMNO figures who had senior roles in the past.

They included Hishammuddin Hussein, named as the new foreign minister and Ismail Sabri Yaakob, senior minister overseeing defence.

In a departure from usual practice, the head of major Malaysian bank CIMB was named to the post of finance minister rather than a career politician.

Muhyiddin, 72, said he was aiming for a cabinet that was ‘efficient, transparent and with integrity’, and those selected had been vetted by anti-corruption authorities.

Najib and his cronies were accused of plundering billions of dollars from the sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, and he was arrested and put on trial after losing power.

Mahathir has challenged the legitimacy of Muhyiddin’s premiership, claiming he did not have enough support to be named to the job. Muhyiddin was appointed by the king.

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