Malaysian Cabinet starts work, plans to review programmes

DPM Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is also Women and Family Development Minister, announced a task force under her office to monitor and fulfil Pakatan Harapan's (PH's) campaign promises without delay.
DPM Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is also Women and Family Development Minister, announced a task force under her office to monitor and fulfil Pakatan Harapan's (PH's) campaign promises without delay.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/ DR WAN AZIZAH WAN ISMAIL

Wan Azizah sets up task force to fulfil PH's promises; ministers announce goals and tasks

Malaysia's new Cabinet ministers began their first day of work yesterday with plans to review various projects and schemes, even as they vowed to continue implementing existing programmes that work.

Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is also Women and Family Development Minister, announced a task force under her office to monitor and fulfil Pakatan Harapan's (PH's) campaign promises without delay.

 

The country's first female DPM said the government would not scrap the Permata education programme founded by Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, wife of former premier Najib Razak. However, it would conduct an audit of the scheme, which PH had previously questioned for getting RM85 million (S$28.7 million) in last year's federal Budget.

Datuk Seri Wan Azizah, who reported to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad at his Perdana Leadership Foundation office before clocking in at hers, told reporters she was confident Tun Dr Mahathir's wisdom and experience will make Malaysia respected again.

Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu inspected a guard of honour at his ministry, but walked right through without pausing. He apologised on social media for the error, and got remarks welcoming his humility.

He said his ministry will conduct an internal investigation into defence spending by the Najib administration, and said he needed to obtain more information on controversial procurements.

He will also discuss with Dr Mahathir the future of a Saudi-backed anti-terrorism centre that had been allocated 16ha of land in Putrajaya.

REASSESSING PROCESS

We need to look at what happened and we want to make sure that the whole process is transparent and open.

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS MINISTER AZMIN ALI, on mega projects approved by the previous administration.

Also up for review are a number of mega projects, including the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail and East Coast Rail Link.

Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali told reporters after meeting officers from the Economic Planning Unit and the Prime Minister's Department: "We need to look at what happened and we want to make sure that the whole process is transparent and open."

He also took a 10-minute call from Singapore Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, and said in a Twitter post: "Looking forward to working together on matters of mutual concern."

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said the contentious Anti-Fake News Act will be reassessed, citing how it was rushed through the last Parliament sitting.

"I am looking forward to meeting the relevant stakeholders, including the media, to see how we can improve the Bill," he said.

Meanwhile, Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said he will work on improving national security, adding he had told the various agencies under his purview to "think outside the box" and set "new benchmarks" immediately.

"We want Malaysia to be one of the safest countries in the world. That is my wish. That we feel safe, we can go anywhere without being harmed and we feel free," he told a news conference at his ministry.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke vowed to tackle corruption involved in getting driving licences.

Education Minister Maszlee Malik pledged to repeal the Universities and University Colleges Act, which limits students' and lecturers' involvement in political activities.

In an interview with Malay-language daily Sinar Harian, the former academic said he will look into how education systems in developed countries like Finland, that are more about building personality rather than burdening students with exams, could be adopted.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2018, with the headline 'Malaysian Cabinet starts work, plans to review programmes'. Print Edition | Subscribe