KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) – New Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has retained mostly familiar faces in his cabinet unveiled on Friday, but vowed his government would be more open as it seeks to curb the escalation of the pandemic.
The composition of the Cabinet mirrors that of his predecessor, Muhyiddin Yassin, who resigned on August 16 after less than 18 months in office because infighting within his coalition cost him the support of the majority.
Ismail did not appoint a member of parliament but retained the four top ministerial posts, which had been created by Muhyiddin to satisfy factions of his Malay-majority government. Banker Zafrul Abdul Aziz retained the powerful financial portfolio while some former ministers swapped portfolios.
Opposition lawmakers immediately expressed disappointment at what they called a retraining of the former government, which has failed to curb the pandemic despite a seven-month state of emergency and a lockdown since June.
Malaysia hit a daily record of 24,599 infections on Thursday, bringing its total to 1.64 million. Daily deaths also peaked at 393, bringing the toll to 15,211. Vaccinations are progressing rapidly, with more than half of the adult population fully vaccinated.
Lim Guan Eng, an opposition leader, said the new cabinet was disappointing and raised the question of whether Ismail is committed to finding new solutions to the pandemic and economic recession. Another opposition MP, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, said it was a “missed opportunity” for Ismail to make real change.