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No Cabinet posts for opposition, they can contribute in COVID-19 council: Malaysia PM Ismail Sabri

The prime minister said that the Cabinet line-up would be announced later this week.

No Cabinet posts for opposition, they can contribute in COVID-19 council: Malaysia PM Ismail Sabri

In this photo provided by Malaysia's Department of Information, Malaysia's new Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob sits at his desk on his first day at the prime minister's office in Putrajaya, Malaysia Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. (Fandy Azlan /Malaysia Department of Information via AP)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on Monday (Aug 23) that opposition politicians will not be appointed as Cabinet ministers, amid suggestions on the feasibility of a unity government.

If opposition lawmakers would like to contribute in the country’s fight against COVID-19, they can do so via the National Recovery Council or the special committee, he added.

Speaking to the media after inspecting the flood situation in Kedah state, the new prime minister said it appeared the opposition had given an encouraging response to his offer to be involved in national recovery efforts.

“They want to discuss, God willing. I will meet with them to discuss, they want to know what their role is,” he said.

“The same with economic recovery, there is the National Recovery Council and they can also be involved in that,” Mr Ismail Sabri said.

When asked if this meant Cabinet roles, Mr Ismail Sabri said there was no unity government involving opposition parties.

“But cooperation does not mean they are in the Cabinet. If they really want to help solve the COVID-19 issue, we have the Special Committee on COVID-19, they can contribute their opinions and ideas there.”

Both sides could sit down and handle COVID-19 and the country’s economic recovery together, he added.

The prime minister also said that the Cabinet line-up would be announced later this week, adding that the list would be presented to the king. 

He dismissed the lists being circulated online as incorrect. “There is no list yet, so don’t believe these (lists).”

He said the candidates would be considered holistically and that the interests of all concerned would be taken into account. 

Mr Ismail Sabri was sworn-in as Malaysia’s ninth prime minister last Saturday (Aug 21), following nearly a week of political turmoil in Putrajaya. 

He was most recently deputy prime minister and defence minister in the Perikatan Nasional government led by Mr Muhyiddin Yassin, who resigned last Monday after losing the majority support in the Lower House.

In his first televised address as prime minister to the country on Sunday, Mr Ismail Sabri had offered the opposition politicians the opportunity to be involved in the country’s COVID-19 and economic recovery efforts.

Introducing the concept of “Malaysian family”, he said everyone needed to find common ground and move towards building a consensus for common safety and security. 

King Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah had in his audience with leaders of political parties last Tuesday urged all parties to cooperate as one team

On Sunday, Democratic Action Party secretary-general Lim Guan Eng tweeted that the party was willing to consider the offer to join the COVID-19 bodies as long as the opposition’s presence is not “token representation and a mere rubber stamp for the government's views”. 

In a statement issued on Monday evening, Pakatan Harapan (PH) presidential council said the coalition would continue to serve in the parliament as opposition which gives constructive criticisms to ensure checks and balances on the executive.

"The PH presidential council today reiterated its commitment that PH coalition will be strengthened under the leadership of its chairman Anwar Ibrahim. Preparations for the 15th general election will be intensified, including discussions of seat allocation, leadership line-up and candidates, as well as strategies to win the people's mandate," the statement read.

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Source: CNA/vt