Analysts see DAP-Umno balancing act in Cabinet reshuffle

They say the reshuffle is a move towards equilibrium in the unity government.

(FMT) – Political analysts say Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim appears to have struck a balance between the roles given to DAP and Umno, bitter enemies turned allies, in his new Cabinet line-up – his first reshuffle since taking charge of the unity government one year ago.

Speaking to FMT, analyst Azmi Hassan said Umno still maintained important posts as a “counterbalance” to DAP’s additional ministerial position.

“It has been balanced out because although the portfolios have been swapped among Umno ministers (Khaled Nordin, Mohamad Hasan and Zambry Abdul Kadir), they are still holding important ones,” Azmi, of Akademi Nusantara, said.

“There is also the addition of two Umno MPs: Noraini Ahmad and Johari Ghani.”

Hisomuddin Bakar of Ilham Centre said the Cabinet reshuffle showed that Anwar was seeking to redistribute the positions between Umno and DAP.

“This was done out of consideration that DAP has the most MPs in Parliament under the unity government,” he said.

The reshuffle, announced by Anwar on Tuesday, saw his Cabinet expanded from 28 ministers to 31, with the appointment of five new faces, several portfolio swaps, and the axing of one minister – DAP’s V Sivakumar, who had held the position of human resources minister.

Khaled, who served as higher education minister, was made defence minister, taking over from Mohamad who became foreign minister.

Meanwhile Zambry, who served as foreign minister, was reassigned to the higher education portfolio.

Umno vice-president Johari Ghani was appointed plantation and commodities minister, taking over the portfolio previously held by deputy prime minister Fadillah Yusof.

And Wanita Umno chief Noraini Ahmad was named as deputy women, family and community development minister.

DAP’s Gobind Singh Deo was appointed digital minister, a position created by splitting the communications and digital ministry.

After the shake-up, DAP and Umno have five ministers each.

Meanwhile, Mazlan Ali of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia said any additional Cabinet position for DAP would be justified as the party had “sacrificed” in the previous line-up.

“DAP should have been given more positions initially because the party has more than 40 MPs, compared with Umno.

“Yet they only had four ministers (back then),” he said.

Despite the slight increase in numbers, Mazlan said Anwar’s revamped Cabinet was still smaller than the line-ups of previous administrations.

“If this was the previous government, we would have seen up to 70 people. But now, it’s just 60. So it is still considered a compact Cabinet,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hisomuddin said a bigger Cabinet would be necessary if experienced individuals needed to be brought on board.