Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. File Photo
Kuala Lumpur, May 17 (IANS): Newly-elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad announced that he will also be Malaysia’s Education Minister as he outlined his plans for posts in the new government on Thursday.
Former opposition leader Mahathir, whose Pakatan Harapan coalition won last week’s elections, spoke to around 80 people about education and the composition of the new Cabinet.
Mahathir, who also served as Premier from 1981 to 2003, said that he hopes to have 13 new ministers sworn in on Monday, the Star online reported.
He is slated to become the new Education Minister, with his wife and deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah taking the women’s affairs portfolio.
Mahathir held the education portfolio in 1974 before becoming deputy Prime Minister in 1976. When asked why he wanted that portfolio, Mahathir joked: “Because many people in Malaysia seem to be uneducated.”
The 92-year-old politician and the world’s oldest sitting head of government also added that Malaysia’s Registrar of Societies on Wednesday approved the registration of the Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) coalition, which is made up of the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, Parti Keadilan Rakyat, Democratic Action Party and the Parti Amanah Negara.
Malaysia’s contentious May 9 election saw the demise of former Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Barisan Nasional (National Front) government and the victory of the opposition.
That political change led to the release from prison of senior politician Anwar Ibrahim, who had been jailed for sodomy, as well as intensifying scrutiny of Najib, accused of channelling $681 million into his own bank accounts from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) state fund.
Malaysian authorities last week barred Najib from leaving the country and police had over the past few days searched his apartments in Kuala Lumpur.
The former Prime Minister denies claims of corruption and has said the money was a donation from the Saudi royal family.