Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has announced a minor cabinet reshuffle in which he co-opted the leaders from MCA and Gerakan into his team.
MCA received two ministerial and three deputy ministers’ posts, while Gerakan got one.
As expected, Najib appointed the presidents of MCA and Gerakan into the Cabinet.
MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai is now Transport Minister, taking over the portfolio temporarily helmed by Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.
Gerakan president Datuk Mah Siew Keong, who won the Teluk Intan by-election last month, is now a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, alongside MCA deputy president Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong.
Meanwhile, MCA vice-presidents Datuk Lee Chee Leong, Datuk Chua Tee Yong and Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun were appointed deputy ministers.
Lee is now with International Trade and Industry Ministry, while Chua and Chew are Deputy Finance Minister and Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister respectively.
Najib said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has agreed for the swearing-in of the new cabinet members this Friday at Istana Negara.
“I’m confident the new Cabinet will continue to serve the people diligently,” he said.
Acknowledging that the Cabinet is now bigger due to the new inclusions, Najib said it cannot be avoided due to “extraordinary circumstances “.
“We have to make adjustments due to the decision made by MCA,” he said, referring to the Chinese party which overturned its no-cabinet-posts stand early this year.
MCA had decided against taking up the posts due to its dismal showing at last year’s general election.
“I never planned for such a big cabinet but so far, no one wanted to volunteer to step down,” he said in jest.
Najib also said the Cabinet was formed slightly more than a year ago and the members needed to have more time to perform.
“We will review if necessary when the time comes.”
Najib denied he was under pressure to announce the new shake-up, saying that he was merely looking for the correct time to do it.
This is especially so with the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on March 8, with Najib saying there was a need to focus on searching for the jetliner.
“It’s just a question of finding an opportune time to make an announcement and look at the bigger national programmes so that it’s not in the way of the announcement.
“Now with the new search phase, it’s an appropriate time for us to make the announcement,” he said.
Asked about Mah and Wee’s areas of responsibilities, he said that will be discussed with the duo but added “substantive work” will be given to them.
On whether Hishammuddin will continue to head the search for MH370, Najib said that too will be discussed.
The prime minister said he expected all his ministers and deputy ministers to perform their duties well and execute policies in a collective manner.
“This is the BN government and though they represent their own component parties and in a way their own ethnic groups, they cannot forget we are collectively the BN government and have to take into account the interest of all communities and bear in mind certain specific responsibilities such as promises to the people have to be executed fully to uphold people’s trust in BN,” he said.