Malaysia has a shadow Cabinet for the first time

Umno, 3 other opposition parties join hands to monitor each ministry, craft alternative policies


KUALA LUMPUR • Four Malaysian opposition parties yesterday unveiled a shadow Cabinet, the first in the country's history, which they say will act as a check and balance on policies being pursued by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.

The parallel Cabinet was formed by the three members of the Barisan Nasional (BN) opposition coalition, and a former BN faction Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS).

BN has 59 MPs from Umno, two from the Malaysian Indian Congress and one from the Malaysian Chinese Association. PBRS has one MP.

Umno's secretary-general Annuar Musa said that the group has adopted a portfolio committee system with at least two MPs assigned to monitor each government ministry.

"The committee will play a check-and-balance role for each ministry. It will serve as a 'policy watch' and formulate alternative policies to compete with Pakatan Harapan," he said, as quoted by the Malaysian media.

Tan Sri Annuar invited opposition parties from Sarawak and Sabah, which have formed their own alliances, to also join in.

In previous years when BN was in power, then opposition parties such as the Democratic Action Party and Parti Keadilan Rakyat had scoffed at the idea of a shadow Cabinet, as practised in countries following the Westminster style of Parliament. They preferred to jump in on major issues that raised the public's attention.


The committee will play a check-and-balance role for each ministry. It will serve as a 'policy watch' and formulate alternative policies to compete with Pakatan Harapan.



In the list of appointments released yesterday, former youth and sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin has the finance portfolio, and is tasked with drafting an alternative Malaysian Budget. The PH government is expected to present next year's Budget in November.

Former prime minister and finance minister Najib Razak, who is facing charges of graft and money laundering, has been left out of the shadow Cabinet. He is still a Member of Parliament.

Other MPs in the list took up posts which mirrored their previous appointments when BN was in power.

Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who was formerly deputy prime minister, heads the portfolio handling issues under the Prime Minister's Department.

The defence portfolio is headed by former defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein, foreign affairs by former deputy foreign minister Reezal Merican Naina Merican, and education by former education minister Mahdzir Khalid.

Mr Khairy said on Twitter: "Now that the shadow Cabinet has been announced, institutional reform of Parliament should follow with select committees & resources for shadow ministers."

He added that anyone with finance or economics experience is welcome to "help the opposition craft our first shadow Budget".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 27, 2018, with the headline 'Malaysia has a shadow Cabinet for the first time'. Subscribe