PUTRAJAYA, March 27 (Bernama) -- Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Saturday announced sweeping changes to the cabinet which saw the splitting up of three ministries and the introduction of fresh faces, aimed at enhancing the government machinery and fulfilling Barisan Nasional's election promises.
The Prime Minister retained his portfolios as Finance Minister and also took up the post of Minister of Internal Security, a branch of the now-divided Home Ministry.
His deputy, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, also retained his Defence portfolio.
Five ministries have also been renamed.
Speaking at a packed news conference at the Prime Minister's Office here, Abdullah said: "This is a major revamp in the administration aimed at improving services to the people."
Besides splitting three ministries, Abdullah also abolished the Ministry of Land and Cooperation Development and set up two ministries -- Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment; and Ministry of Federal Territories.
The Home Ministry has been split into the Home Affairs Ministry and the Internal Security Ministry while the Education Ministry has been split into the Education Ministry and the Higher Education Ministry.
The Culture, Arts and Tourism Ministry has been split into the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage; and the Tourism Ministry.
The National Unity and Social Development Ministry and the Women and Family Development Ministry have been merged and named the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.
The Ministry of Rural Development has been renamed as the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development; the Ministry of Primary Industries as the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities; and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment as the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations.
The Ministry of Agriculture is now known as the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry while the Ministry of Energy, Communications and Multimedia is now known as the Ministry of Energy, Water and Communications.
Among the new faces in the cabinet line-up are Datuk Mustapa Mohamed, Datuk Seri Mohamed Radzi Sheikh Ahmad, Prof Datuk Dr Abdullah Mohamed Zin and Datuk Dr Maximus alias Johnity Ongkili, who have all been appointed as Minister in the Prime Minister's Department.
The other new faces are Datuk Seri Adenan Satem (Minister of Natural Resources and Environment), Datuk Azalina Othman (Minister of Youth and Sports) and Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek (Minister of Health).
Meanwhile, the deputy ministers who have been promoted are Datuk Mohamed Khaled Nordin (Minister of Entrepreneurial and Cooperative Development), Datuk Dr Mohamed Shafie Salleh (Minister of Higher Education) and Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui (Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities).
Others are Datuk Shafie Apdal (Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs) and Datuk Abdul Aziz Samsudin (Minister of Rural and Regional Development).
Those promoted includes Datuk Leo Michael Toyad who has been appointed Minister of Tourism.
Meanwhile, portfolios have been switched among several ministers including Datuk Seri Mohamad Nazri Aziz who is now Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Azmi Khalid (Minister of Home Affairs), Datuk Hishammuddin Tun Hussein (Minister of Education) and Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik (Minister of Energy, Water and Communications).
Others are Datuk Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir (Minister of Information), Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim (Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage) and Datuk Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis (Minister of Science, Technology and Innovations).
Among the leaders who maintained their old portfolios are MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu (Works Minister), Wanita Umno chief Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz (International Trade and Industry Minister), MCA president Datuk Ong Ka Ting (Housing and Local Government Minister) and Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar (Foreign Minister).
Others who get back their old job are MCA vice-president Datuk Fong Chan Onn (Human Resource Minister), MCA deputy president Datuk Chan Kong Choy (Transport Minister) and Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil (who now heads the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development).
Making a comeback to the federal government is former Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Tan Sri Mohamed Isa Abdul Samad who now heads the new Federal Territories Ministry.
The Barisan Nasional (BN) returned to power on the back of popular support for Abdullah's commitment to, among others, make life better for Malaysia's 23 million people, wipe out corruption, improve the public delivery system, enhance transparency in giving out government contracts and, more importantly, his moderate approach of Islam.
The eagerly-awaited announcement capped the BN's thumping victory in the March 21 general election which saw the 14-member coalition winning 198 of 219 parliamentary seats, snatching Terengganu from the claws of PAS and coming close to bringing back Kelantan into the BN fold.
Although the country was abuzz with speculations over who was in and who was out, Abdullah kept things close to his chest and even reportedly spent some time in Pangkor island to ponder on his cabinet list.
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