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Najib expands Cabinet to make it more inclusive

Prime Minister Najib Razak has expanded his Cabinet to make it more inclusive and representative of a multi-racial country.

PUTRAJAYA, MALAYSIA: Prime Minister Najib Razak has expanded his Cabinet to make it more inclusive and representative of a multi-racial country.

He added three ministers and three deputies, including leaders from Barisan Nasional coalition members Gerakan and the Malaysia Chinese Association (MCA).

"Today's Cabinet appointments reflect our long-held desire to govern in an inclusive and representative manner: a government made up of all Malaysians, that governs for all Malaysians," Mr Najib said in a televised announcement on Wednesday.

The result is a bloated Cabinet line-up with 35 ministers, and 10 placed under the Prime Minister's Department.

But Mr Najib laughed off criticism about his oversized Cabinet.

"Actually, I didn't intend to have such a big Cabinet but nobody volunteers to make way, so how? That's just a joke, by the way," he said in jest.

Political observers said Mr Najib is playing it safe, by keeping the current line-up so as not to rock the boat and affect his power base within his own party.

Malaysiakini political commentator, Ram Anand, said: "PM Najib does not want to rock the boat because a lot of UMNO leaders are ministers and he needs to give posts to MCA to show that he still cares about the Chinese."

But Mr Najib reminded his ministers that he'll be reviewing their performance soon enough.

"The present Cabinet has been formed for just a year, slightly more than a year. So you have to give time for them to perform. We will review, if necessary, when the time comes," he said.

MCA, Malaysia's largest Chinese political party, opted out of the Cabinet after a dismal showing in the 2013 general elections.

It was the biggest winner in Mr Najib's latest Cabinet reveal.

MCA will hold two full ministerships and three deputy portfolios.

Its party president Liow Tiong Lai takes over as Transport Minister from Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, who has been the Acting Transport Minister.

Mr Hishammuddin has been the public face in the search and investigation of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

He had promised to continue shouldering that responsibility until the plane is found.

But that's unclear now, pending discussions between him and Mr Liow.


 

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