PUTRAJAYA, MALAYSIA: Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim affirmed that the 20% monthly pay reduction for cabinet members would persist despite the recent reshuffle.
He clarified that this exemption applies solely to the PM, as he had previously declined to accept his PM’s salary.
PM Anwar addressed queries from the media following his announcement of the new Cabinet lineup on Tuesday (12 Dec) morning at the PM Office in Putrajaya, coinciding with the one-year mark of his Unity Government.
Back in December 2022, PM Anwar declared that his cabinet members had unanimously agreed to take a 20% monthly salary cut until the economy rebounds.
This decision was aimed at showcasing the government’s empathy towards the challenges faced by the populace.
Anwar added that while it is inappropriate to slash salaries, he appreciates his fellow Cabinet ministers’ willingness to make the sacrifice.
In November last year, PM Anwar stated that he would forego his PM’s salary in solidarity with the people grappling with the escalating cost of living.
Clarifying his stance as both PM and Finance Minister, Anwar emphasized that he only receives one salary, which he has already declined.
Anwar: Dr Dzul’s return to address healthcare challenges
During the press conference, PM Anwar faced queries regarding his decision to reinstate Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad as the Health Minister, replacing the incumbent, Dr Zaliha Mustafa.
In response, PM Anwar expressed confidence in Dr. Dzulkefly’s extensive experience as a Health Minister, emphasizing the pressing need to address the numerous challenges burdening the Health Ministry.
He pointed out that these challenges are a mix of inherited issues and the increasing demand for enhanced healthcare services.
“We believe Dr. Dzulkefly’s expertise will greatly benefit our efforts to revamp the healthcare system,” he stated.
Furthermore, when questioned about the decision to split the Ministry for Digital and Communication into two separate entities, PM Anwar clarified that communication, especially concerning media and social media, poses distinct challenges.
He acknowledged criticisms aimed at the lack of effective communication and information dissemination despite impressive policies in place.
Additionally, while expressing a desire to prioritize digital transformation to adapt to evolving technologies like AI, PM Anwar highlighted the considerable challenges associated with this endeavour.
Appointment of former EPF CEO as second Finance Minister
Anwar also commented on the appointment of former Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) chief executive, Datuk Seri Amir Hamzah Azizan, as the second finance minister, emphasizing Amir’s proven competence and adeptness in overseeing the federal statutory body in the past.
“Well my personal view, I think that I have built a consensus that the Finance Ministry other than being headed by me must have a strong professional team to ensure we are on the right track, focus on the economy and not sideline or deflected by political pressures,” he said.
Stressing the imperative to adapt to evolving circumstances and the performance of ministers, Anwar underscored the necessity for the highly anticipated Cabinet reshuffle.
Anwar reflected on the one-year tenure of the federal government, stating that it has shed light on the Cabinet’s performance and the need for adjustments to keep pace with current demands.
“It is not just based on past performances, but changes in terms of economic growth, cost of living and also international acceptance which has changed how the Foreign Ministry works.”
“There are also issues concerning higher education, especially when we are now exploring new fields such as Artificial Intelligence and digital transformation, which drove me to consider some adjustments according to present conditions and demands,” he said.
Anwar stated that unless pressured by political factors, there would be no further alterations to the current Cabinet lineup for the subsequent four years, provided it performs well.
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