Anwar: A new Prime Minister can reshuffle Cabinet

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 – Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has seemingly started to mull over the Cabinet choices he will make when he becomes prime minister. He also said that could happen in 12 to 18 months.

In an interview with ChannelNews Asia (CNA), the PKR president said he does not rule out a Cabinet reshuffle when he takes over from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“I would most likely decide based on the performance of the existing Cabinet ministers appointed by Dr Mahathir.

“I think the option is always given to the new leader to decide. I have not thought about it yet. It all depends, because they have one, one-and-a-half years to prove themselves.

“If they are effective, they should continue. If they are mediocre or lacking in expertise or their performance is poor, naturally we have to revise. I mean that is expected,” he told the regional news broadcaster.

Special role for outgoing Prime Minister Mahathir

Surprisingly, Anwar was also open to the idea of his former mentor-turned-rival Dr Mahathir being given a special role in his administration.

“We could create a special role similar to that of a senior minister or minister mentor in Singapore. Mahathir has always said to me: ‘When you retire, retire’.

“As long as things are not only cordial but our working relations continue to be based on trust, then I don’t foresee any problem with giving him such a role,” Anwar was quoted as saying.

Parliamentary reform

According to the report, Anwar was geared up to return to the Dewan Rakyat as an MP as early as next month, before the tabling of the national budget on Nov 2, to contribute towards parliamentary reform.

He is expected to stand in the Port Dickson by-election, to be held soon, following the resignation of retired naval officer Danyal Rajagopal Abdullah, who quit his position MP last week.

In his interview with CNA, Anwar also did not give any thoughts on how and when exactly he would like to take over from Mahathir.

Pakatan plan on track

In January this year, the Pakatan Harapan presidential council announced they had come to an agreement that should the coalition win the 14th general election, Mahathir would be the PM with Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail his deputy.

The agreement had also expressly stated that a new government would seek a pardon for Anwar from his sodomy conviction as soon as possible, in order to enable him to stand for election and return to the seat of government in Parliament.

Anwar said he was instead focused on supporting the PM and working towards effecting the relevant change and reform needed for a new Malaysia.

DPM post: Will listen to elected reps

“Although I’m leading a party with significant numbers of MPs in the Dewan Rakyat, but my position is very clear. You have the prime minister, you should give the support, you give the latitude and we give him the undertaking that the entire party and the machinery are with him in effecting reforms,” Anwar told CNA.

As to the role of DPM when he takes over the premiership, Anwar said he would take advice from elected representatives.

“There is of course a broad understanding but only in terms of my position. There’s no insistence or even any lobbying on who is the next person to be deputy prime minister,” he was quoted as saying.