Malaysia names new minister for transport
MALAYSIA'S Prime Minister, Najib Razak, yesterday appointed a new transport minister to replace Hishammuddin Hussein, who took the lead during the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
Mr Hishammuddin, who is also defence minister, had provisionally held the transport portfolio after the post was left vacant following the last election a year ago.
Mr Najib said in a widely expected announcement that Liow Tiong Lai, a former health minister and president of the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), would helm the transport ministry.
The post has usually been held by a representative of the ruling coalition's main Chinese party.
But MCA refused to accept any Cabinet posts last year after a poor electoral performance amid anger among ethnic Chinese and other minorities about perceived discrimination by the ethnic Malay-dominated coalition.
Mr Najib's Barisan Nasional coalition, which has ruled the country since independence in 1957, was re-elected in May last year, though it lost the popular vote for the first time.
MCA delegates reversed the decision not to accept posts earlier this year.
Besides Mr Liow, two other ethnic Chinese politicians were also named ministers, and three MCA vice-presidents were appointed deputy ministers.
Wee Ka Siong of MCA and Gerakan president Mah Siew Keong were appointed ministers in the Prime Minister's Department.
Chew Mei Fun is Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister, Chua Tee Yong is Deputy Finance Minister and Lee Chee Leong is Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister.
"These appointments reflect my desire to ensure that the make-up of the Cabinet, and the government, broadly reflects that of our nation," Mr Najib said.
He indicated that the announcement had been delayed due to the search for MH370.
Mr Najib added that he did not plan to have such a large Cabinet, but joked that "no one has volunteered to leave Cabinet".
The new office holders will be sworn in tomorrow.
AFP, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK