After a protracted delay, full Malaysian ministry sworn in


After a protracted delay, full Malaysian ministry sworn in

Peter Symonds

3 July 2018

The May 9 general election in Malaysia ended six decades of rule by right-wing, autocratic governments dominated by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO). While the victory of the opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) has raised high hopes, the new administration of 92-year-old Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad is organically incapable of addressing the democratic aspirations and pressing social needs of working people.

The fact that it has taken nearly two months to assemble a full ministry, which was officially sworn in yesterday, is a sign of the deep, underlying divisions within the five-party ruling coalition. The first cabinet sworn in on May 21 comprised Mahathir and 13 ministers. Yesterday, another 13 ministers and 23 deputy ministers were officially appointed.

Mahathir, who was UMNO leader and prime minister from 1981 to 2003, only broke away from UMNO and formed the United Malaysian Indigenous Party (PPBM) in 2017 after bitterly attacking then prime minister Najib Razak over corruption and the 1Malaysia Development Bank (1MDB) scandal.

Mahathir and his PPBM joined the opposition coalition in January and he became its prime ministerial candidate on the basis of an opportunistic deal with its two main parties—the ethnic Chinese-based Democratic Action Party (DAP) and the People’s Justice Party (PKR) of jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Under the arrangement, Mahathir, if he became prime minister, would seek a pardon for Anwar and would step aside after two years to allow Anwar to take the top job. While Anwar has now been freed, the composition of the new cabinet indicates that Mahathir intends to consolidate his grip on power, if not for himself personally, then for…

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