May 22, 2024

New Malaysia Times

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First ever Shadow Cabinet ready to hound ministers, govt

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 15 – Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has been sworn in as an MP in the second sitting of the Dewan Rakyat today. This follows his victory in the Port Dickson by-election on Saturday.

Despite the criticisms from many quarters, whom the PKR president had called “Super Liberals”, in the wake of the controversy of having a by-election engineered for his return to Parliament, the Pakatan Harapan “Ketua Umum” won the seat with a landslide, increasing the margin of victory compared with the coalition’s victory in the 14th general election on May 9.

Anwar’s swearing-in was the first order of the day in the august house, with the current session, which will end on December 11, set to be a critical test of the new government’s resolve and capabilities on a number of factors.

On November 2, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng will be giving his maiden national Budget 2019 speech, while the Cabinet has also agreed to use this current session to fulfil its GE14 manifesto to repeal the Sedition Act, among other draconian laws.

Also, as per last week’s announcement by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Liew Vui Keong, the government also plans to abolish the death penalty during this session.

Changes to opposition bench

There will also be some changes on the opposition bench with former ministers Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamad and Datuk Seri Anifah Aman now being independents, having left Umno-BN last month.

Meanwhile, Labuan MP Datuk Rozman Isli will be moving from the opposition bench to become a government backbencher after leaving Umno to join Parti Warisan Sabah last Thursday.

For the first time in the history of Malaysian politics too, the opposition will have a “Shadow Cabinet” with selected MPs ready to address their counterparts in the ruling coalition.

Busy session for Khairy in finance portfolio 

Barisan Nasional, led by Umno, and its former partners in Sabah will be using this “Shadow Cabinet” or as they call it, the Portfolio Committee to hold the government accountable for its actions and for it to stop taking the opposition lightly.

The Finance portfolio is expected to steal the limelight with the Budget 2019 to be tabled.

Former youth and sports minister and Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin and Pensiangan MP Joseph Kurup, who was a minister in the prime minister’s department, will shoulder the responsibility of taking on Lim.

It is left to be seen if a “shadow Budget 2019” would also be presented by BN, like PH did last year.

Most ex-ministers to keep portfolio

New Umno president and Bagan Datuk MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi will lead “Shadow Cabinet” being the opposition leader in the Dewan Rakyat and will also hold the portfolio of the Prime Minister’s Department.

For the law portfolio, under the PM’s Department, the MPs in charge are Datuk Seri Azalina Othman (Pengerang) and former Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker Ronald Kiandee (Beluran).

Where possible, with an MP having been a former minister, such as Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid (Padang Terap) and Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh (Besut) who were both education ministers, the portfolio will remain the same in the “Shadow Cabinet”. Likewise for Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (Sembrong) with defence.

Strongest opposition ever

With these ministers knowing the civil servants within their former ministries, there is a likelihood of inside information being leaked for the good of the opposition with many civil servants remaining loyal to BN.

As former Council of Eminent Persons chairman Tun Daim Zainuddin said prior to GE14, should BN lose in the national polls it would make them the strongest opposition this country has ever known.

– NMT