Six BN reps in 28-member Cabinet for stability, will not unduly influence govt policy or reform, say analysts

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 4 — Despite Barisan Nasional (BN) being disproportionately represented in the new Cabinet, with major portfolios given to its representatives, political analysts said that they would not exert undue influence on the government’s decisions, policies, or reforms.

Senior fellow at the Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research (NASR) Azmi Hassan explained that the appointment of six BN representatives to the 28-member Cabinet announced on Friday by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was merely done to ensure the stability of the unity government.

“Yes, BN got the most sought-after portfolios plus a deputy prime minister’s post. I think Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi must be there due to political concerns.

“We know Umno would always be a problem should the president not have any post in the Cabinet. So the BN appointments are to ensure that the support for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as the prime minister is always there,” he told Malay Mail.

Meanwhile, University of Malaya Centre for Democracy and Elections (UMcedel) sociopolitical analyst Associate Professor Awang Azman Awang Pawi said that BN representation in the newly formed Cabinet is fairly balanced.

“The BN members in the Cabinet are based on the hierarchy of the party this time. We have the Umno president, his deputy and vice-presidents, and also the party’s supreme council members in the Cabinet.

“What we don’t see is any representative from MCA or MIC. However, we know that before the unity government was established, a few MCA and MIC leaders signed statutory declarations in support of Perikatan Nasional (PN) president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

“So, in this context, it is obvious Anwar did not want this group of people to be in the Cabinet as the prime minister’s target is to have a stable, harmonious Cabinet, and not a prejudicial one,” he said.

Awang Azman also said that having hierarchical BN representatives in the Cabinet will help the unity government to amend or establish new and proper policies and reforms.

He also said the new Cabinet has more advantages than disadvantages in developing the country due to inclusive participation from all territories regardless of ethnic or religion.

However, senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs Oh Ei Sun said that the appointment of BN representatives to major portfolios in the Cabinet would bring unwarranted influence in government decision-making.

“BN’s main goal would be to preserve its vested interests, and this could take the form of influence (in government decision and policy making),” he said.

He also described the new Cabinet as a compromise to keep the coalition government afloat for a while at least.

On Friday, Anwar announced a total of 28 ministers, four fewer than his predecessors Muhyiddin and Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, but more than the 25 originally targeted.

Anwar also said deputy ministers will be named at a later date.

Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan (PH) won the most seats of any coalition in the November 19 general election but still fell short of the 112 needed for a simple majority to form the government on its own.

After several days of negotiations, PH finally reached an agreement for a coalition federal government with BN and Gabungan Parti Sarawak, with Gabungan Rakyat Sabah and Parti Warisan joining later.