“Malaysia’s new Cabinet make-up portends challenges in policymaking”

ALTHOUGH the formation of the new Cabinet has led to a reduction in short-term political uncertainty, it remains to be seen if the Pakatan Harapan (PH)-led government will be able implement policies effectively.

More so, newly minted Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar must prove that he has the support of more than 112 MPs when he subjects himself to a motion of confidence when the 15th Parliament session – the first under the government led by Anwar – convenes on Dec 19, according to Fitch Solutions Country Risk & Industry Research.

“Any failure to govern effectively, could also pose downside risks to our growth forecast of 4.0% in 2023,” cautioned the research house which is independent of global credit rating agency Fitch Ratings.

“We are keeping Malaysia’s score on our Short-Term Political Risk Index at 67.3 (out of 100) for now after raising it previously from 64.8 on Nov 25 following Anwar’s appointment as PM.”

At a glance, Fitch Solutions is of the view that Anwar’s Cabinet make-up suggests that he will have to walk a tightrope when implementing his reform agenda in order to maintain support from parties with diverse interests thus weighing on the policymaking process.

“Additionally, the leader faces a challenge from rival Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, leader of opposition, who claims to have obtained signed declarations of 115 lawmakers and is demanding that Anwar prove his majority in Parliament,” contended the research house.

“Parliament is scheduled to meet on Dec 19 when a confidence vote will be held. When Parliament convenes, the PH-led government also plans to table the 2023 budget which was introduced before the election was called but has yet to be passed.”

Unveiled on Dec 2, Anwar’s Cabinet is made up of 28 ministers (31 previously) with appointments distributed among the top leaders of the coalition making up the unity government, including Pakatan Harapan (PH), Barisan Nasional (BN), Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS).

Added Fitch Solutions: “Interestingly, Anwar has decided to also hold the position of Finance Minister which has led to criticism from the opposition about a potential centralisation of power and corruption, particularly given that former PM Datuk Seri Najib Razak had held both posts.”  – Dec 6, 2022

Main pic credit: Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Facebook

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