KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad announced on Thursday (May 17) that he will also be Malaysia's education minister.
Deputy prime minister designate Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, meanwhile, was appointed minister for women's affairs and welfare. Mahathir said he hopes to announce more cabinet ministers on Friday or over the weekend.
“We will try to get 13 ministers sworn in on Monday if the Istana (palace) agrees to it,” Mahathir told a media conference.
Mahathir, 92, was education minister in 1974 before becoming deputy prime minister in 1976. When asked why he wanted the education portfolio, Mahathir joked: "I took over the education portfolio because I think so many people are uneducated in this country, so I thought I should give my attention to that.
"But apart from that, I think our way of teaching is outdated. Today with computers and other things, we should devise new ways of teaching."
Last week, Mahathir appointed Lim Guan Eng as finance minister, Muhyiddin Yassin as home affairs minister and Mohammad Sabu as defence minister.
Lim is Malaysia's first ethnic Chinese finance minister in more than four decades and Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, told Channel NewsAsia on Wednesday that there had been initial concerns over the appointment.
Those concerns have since been resolved and Anwar explained that there was a need to have discussions on the matter to understand the ramifications and repercussions among the Malays.
As for Anwar's role following his release from prison, Mahathir said on Thursday that the 70-year-old will join the Pakatan Harapan coalition's presidential council.
"The presidential council will have a smaller body, the top six. We want to include Datuk Seri Anwar.
“So the top six will meet more often and when there is an issue they will be the ones to meet and take immediate action," Mahathir said.
He also announced that the new head of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission will be its former deputy chief commissioner Mohd Shukri Abdull.
A task force, involving the defence and home affairs ministers, will look into issues of the Indian community, women and the indigenous people. It will be formed and headed by Mahathir himself.
When asked about the police search at properties linked to ousted prime minister Najib Razak, Mahathir said: "I suppose the police has enough reason to raid (Najib's house), I also haven't received any information."
On his meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday, Mahathir said no topics for discussion have been set.
"Hsien Loong will be coming here. We haven't fixed any subject. We will have a discussion and if he raises any issues, we will discuss them. But at the moment, I'm still trying to figure out our stand with regard to certain issues which we still have not finalised yet so I cannot tell you what we'll discuss with Hsien Loong," he added.