Dr M takes on education portfolio (Updated)

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, yesterday, announced that he along with designate Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail will helm two other ministries namely Education as well as Women's Affair and Welfare respectively.

Unlike the previous Barisan Nasional government, Dr Mahathir said the Education Ministry will not be split into two with a higher education ministry and an education ministry.

"I took on the portfolio because there are many people who lack a sound education in the country.

"There are also some methods of teaching in this country which were outdated and needed to be revamped.

"We need to rely on new software and utilise that," he told reporters after chairing the Pakatan Harapan presidential council meeting at the PPBM headquarters in Yayasan Selangor, here.

Having appointed five people into the Cabinet so far, Dr Mahathir also announced that 13 Cabinet members will be sworn in on May 21, pending approval from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V.

"We will appoint eight more, two from each of the four component parties that make up the Pakatan Harapan coalition administration," he said, adding that the other cabinet positions will be announced at a later date.

When asked on the delay in naming a full cabinet, Dr Mahathir cited an overlap in demand by Pakatan Harapan's component parties for the same cabinet position as well as suitability issues as its contributing factors.

He said that he is expected to announce 10 more portfolios by today if possible.

"But if I can't, then I will do it over the weekend," he said.

On PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, he said the former will be among the top six members of the Pakatan Harapan presidential council.

"The council will now have 22 members with five from each Pakatan Harapan component parties, including one woman and youth representing each party.

"If there is any problem, they will convene to decide on important matters. Policies and such will be brought before the Presidential Council," he said.

Additionally, he also announced that a task force will be formed with the Home Affairs Minister and the Defence Minister, chaired by the Prime Minister, to look into the issues of the Indian community, women and Orang Asli.

"We have promised that we will give our attention to problems faced by minorities, especially people of Indian heritage," he said in reference to PH's manifesto which focuses on the Indian community.

Contents of the manifesto include resolving the issues of stateless Indians and the setting up of the Hindu Wakaf Board at the state level, similar to the model of the Penang Hindu Wakaf Board in Kedah, Perak, Selangor, Pahang, Negri Sembilan, Melaka and Johor.

In the latest development, Datuk Seri Mohd Shukri Abdull was named by Dr Mahathir as the top man to take over the reigns at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

Dr Mahathir said the decision was easy as Shukri has the expertise and he is against any wrongdoing.

"He (Shukri) has experience and information. He is also strongly against any form of wrongdoing," he said.

He added that Shukri will investigate former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak's role in blocking MACC's investigations in the past.

Mohd Shukri, 58, was the MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) and went into retirement in 2016.

Immigration Department director-general Datuk Mustafar Ali and Road Transport Department director-general Datuk Shaharuddin Khalid were also previously shortlisted as potential candidates to take over from Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad who quit his post on Monday.

Mohd Shukri, who is known to be a strict and no-nonsense graft-buster had in 2015 headed investigations on the financial scandal of SRC International Sdn Bhd, a former subsidiary of the controversial state-owned investment company 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and later a probe on the RM2.6 billion donation paid to the personal account.

On the 1Malaysia People's Aid (BR1M), Dr Mahathir said they will continue with the handouts but will study and review its recipients.

He said there were people who received BR1M even though they should not.