Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim revamps cabinet as voters worry about economy

Anwar promises to focus on economy, education and health as he splits up ministries and creates new posts.

Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim and his deputy Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. They are standing at a lectern. There are two Malaysian flags behind them. They are smiling
Anwar Ibrahim announced his first major ministerial shake-up after a year in office [Handout/Prime Minister's Office, Malaysia]

Malaysia’s Prime Minister and Finance Minister Anwar Ibrahim has announced a major cabinet reshuffle and promised to focus on the economy, health and education amid growing public concern about the country’s economic situation.

Speaking at a televised press conference on Tuesday, Anwar appointed Amir Hamzah Azizan, formerly chief executive of Malaysia’s biggest pension fund, as second finance minister.

He also said he was moving Mohamad Hasan, the deputy president of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), from the defence ministry to the foreign ministry. The former foreign minister takes on higher education instead.

Anwar also moved Fadillah Yusof, one of two deputy prime ministers, from commodities to the newly created post of energy transition and public utilities minister.

Veteran UMNO politician Johari Abdul Ghani was returned to cabinet to take on the commodities portfolio, while Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, popularly known as Dr Dzul, was named as health minister.

Anwar has been leading a so-called unity government, made up of his reform-minded coalition, former rival UMNO and other smaller parties, since hard-fought elections in November last year.

But his support has waned amid frustration among his supporters at the slow pace of reform and broader concerns about the state of the economy.

A survey published last month by the Merdeka Center, a local polling firm, found 60 percent of Malaysians felt the country was going in the wrong direction, with nearly four out of five identifying the economy as the nation’s biggest problem.

The revamp will increase the size of the cabinet to 60 ministers and deputies compared with 55 previously.

Source: Al Jazeera