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HomeOther CountriesMalaysiaMalaysia swears in new cabinet led by Anwar Ibrahim - Arab News

Malaysia swears in new cabinet led by Anwar Ibrahim – Arab News

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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s new Cabinet led by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim was sworn in on Saturday, after divisive polls last month.
Anwar became Malaysia’s 10th premier on Nov. 24 after a general election that produced no outright winner ended in a hung parliament.
With his reformist alliance Pakatan Harapan failing to secure a simple majority, he eventually formed a coalition government with the help of other political blocs.
Anwar unveiled his Cabinet lineup in a televised speech on Friday night, taking himself the Finance Ministry portfolio — a Cabinet role he first held 30 years ago — and appointing two deputy prime ministers: Ahmad Zahid Hamidi from the Barisan Nasional alliance, which had long dominated Malaysia’s political scene, and Fadillah Yusof, another key coalition partner from Gabungan Parti Sarawak, a regional Borneo-based bloc.


Malaysia’s Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim (right), Deputy Prime Ministers Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Fadillah Yusof during the swearing-in ceremony. (AFP)

“The strength of the unity government has exceeded the two-thirds support in the parliament.  This mandate has given us the confidence to form a stronger cabinet line-up and we will work as a team,” Anwar said as he announced the lineup.
Anwar unveiled his Cabinet lineup in a televised speech on Friday night, taking himself the Finance Ministry portfolio — a Cabinet role he first held 30 years ago — and appointing two deputy prime ministers: Ahmad Zahid Hamidi from the Barisan Nasional alliance, which had long dominated Malaysia’s political scene, and Fadillah Yusof, another key coalition partner from Gabungan Parti Sarawak, a regional Borneo-based bloc.
The new ministers, some clad in traditional Malay attire, took their oath on Saturday before King Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah at the National Palace in Kuala Lumpur.
The government with many new faces was expected to bring stability following a spate of political uncertainty in the Southeast Asian country, which saw three prime ministers in as many years. Anwar said good governance, spurring the economy, and reducing the burden of living costs will be their top priorities.
“This is the most stable lineup we can expect from the new administration,” BowerGroupAsia director Adib Zalkapli told Arab News. “He has to balance the demands of all political parties in the coalition.”
The appointment of Hamidi as one of Anwar’s deputies had raised eyebrows as it appeared to contradict his anti-corruption platform. Hamidi, president of the Barisan Nasional coalition and the United Malays National Organization, has been charged with graft and was a key ally of jailed ex-leader Najib Razak.
Dr. Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said the move was necessary.
“Anwar needs Zahid to keep the Malay nationalist party UMNO with him,” he told Arab News.
Ethnic Malays make up a majority of Malaysia’s 33 million population, which also has a significant population of ethnic Chinese and Indians.
Dr. James Chin, a professor of Asian Studies at the University of Tasmania, said Anwar represented “a moderate Malaysia.”
“Most Malaysians will welcome this cabinet,” Chin told Arab News. “This cabinet has a better reflection of the multiracial society in Malaysia.”
LONDON: A Muslim community in the UK are living in fear after a pig’s head was left on the roof of their mosque, Metro reported.
Members of Heatons Muslims Community Trust in Manchester say that the animal’s head was discovered in a visible part of the building at about 9 p.m. on Dec. 9.
The incident was reported to the police, who logged the event as an Islamophobic hate crime.
HMCT trustee Mohammed Tayyab Mohiuddin said that the building’s CCTV footage from the evening showed a car pulling up with two people inside.
One of the individuals was carrying a rubbish bag that was visible when they exited the vehicle.
Mohiuddin added that the car’s registration plate was recorded.
He said: “In the evening, we have a bit of a gathering at the community center and some people came out and someone said, ‘There’s a pig’s head on the roof.’
“It’s a short roof, so it was easy to see. I think they have picked that point in order to terrify people. Everyone knows someone has placed it there and what their intentions were.
“In our religion, we are not allowed to eat pig’s meat or handle it in any way so someone has done it specifically for that reason.
“We have a lot of elderly people and a lot of children who use the center, and obviously they are a bit terrified that someone is targeting us and fear in the future someone could go further or take a wrong step.”
The HMCT said in a statement: “A pig’s head was placed on the roof, in what looks like a hate crime. Unfortunately, this behavior is not a one-off occurrence.
“In survey data released earlier this year, by Muslim Census and Muslim Engagement and Development, it was reported that almost half (42 percent) of mosques or Islamic institutions surveyed have experienced religiously motivated attacks in the last three years.
“Seventeen percent of mosques from the 42 percent reported having faced physical abuse directed at staff or worshipers, including the stabbing of a muezzin in 2020.
“The HMCT asks local residents and worshipers to remain vigilant and report any hate to the police.”
KABUL: Armed men opened fire on Monday inside a hotel in central Kabul popular with Chinese nationals in an attack that ended when at least three gunmen were killed by security forces, the Taliban-run administration said.
Two foreigners were injured while trying to escape by jumping from the hotel balcony, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid wrote on Twitter.
Kabul’s Emergency Hospital, run by an Italian non-profit near the attacked hotel in the Shahr-e-Naw area, reported receiving 21 casualties — 18 injured and three dead on arrival.
Taliban sources said the attack was carried out at Longan Hotel where Chinese and other foreigners usually stay.
Videos posted on Twitter by a journalist in Kabul and verified by Reuters showed smoke billowing out of one of the floors amid sounds of gunshots, while a person was seen trying to escape the attack by jumping out of a hotel window.
Kabul police spokesman Khalid Zadran said the attack took place around 2.30 p.m. local time, with residents in the area saying they heard a powerful explosion followed by gunfire.
The attack came a day after China’s ambassador met the Afghan deputy foreign minister to discuss security-related matters and sought more attention on the protection of its embassy.
China’s state-run Xinhua news agency said the attack happened near a Chinese guesthouse and its embassy in Kabul was closely monitoring the situation.
The embassy did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Several bombings have taken place in Afghanistan in recent months, including an attack on the Pakistan embassy earlier this month and a suicide blast near the Russian embassy in September. Both attacks were claimed by Daesh.
The Taliban, which seized power after US-led foreign forces withdrew in August 2021, have said they are focused on securing the country. 
QUETTA, Pakistan: Deadly cross-border shelling by Afghan Taliban forces at a Pakistani border town on Sunday killed seven people, Pakistan’s military said, as relations continue to sour between the two neighboring countries.
The violence hitting Chaman in southwestern Pakistan follows a series of deadly incidents and attacks that have skyrocketed tensions between Islamabad and Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers. Chaman is the main border crossing for trade between the countries.
The crossing was reopened on Monday morning, authorities said.
The Pakistani army’s media wing initially said six died in Sunday’s shelling, but the death toll later rose to seven. Sixteen others were wounded, the army said, blaming the casualties on the “unprovoked and indiscriminate fire” of heavy weapons by Afghan forces on civilians.
In Afghanistan, a spokesman for Kandahar’s governor, Ataullah Zaid, appeared to link the clashes between Pakistani and Taliban forces with the construction of new checkpoints on the Afghan side of the border.
He said one Taliban fighter was killed and 10 were wounded. Three civilians were also wounded, he added.
Pakistan’s army said troops responded to Afghan fire, but did not give further details. It said Pakistan has approached authorities in the Afghan capital, Kabul, to highlight the severity of the border incident.
Earlier, Akhtar Mohammad, a doctor with a government-run hospital in Chaman, told The Associated Press that live rounds wounded a total of 27 people who were brought to the hospital for treatment. He said seven were in critical condition.
A resident on Pakistan’s side of the border, Wali Mohammad took his wounded cousin to the hospital in Chaman. He said there were a number of explosions followed by rapid gunfire.
“We were in the street like any other day off, when suddenly, a big explosion was heard and debris hit many people, including one of my cousins,” said Mohammad.
Criticizing the Taliban, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif tweeted on Monday: “The Afghan Interim government should ensure that such incidents are not repeated.”
A deadly shooting in November shuttered the border at Chaman for eight days, causing heavy commercial losses and leaving thousands of people stranded on both sides.
Later last month, Pakistan’s Embassy in Kabul came under gunfire. Pakistani officials called the incident an attack on its envoy there and blamed Taliban officials for the security breach. Islamabad also has said Afghanistan’s rulers are sheltering militants who carry out deadly attacks on its soil.
BEIJING: China will drop a travel tracing requirement as part of an uncertain exit from its strict “zero-COVID” policies that have elicited widespread dissatisfaction.
At midnight on Monday, the smart phone app will cease to function, meaning residents’ travels will not be traced and recorded, potentially reducing the likelihood they will be forced into quarantine for visiting pandemic hot spots. China’s ruling Communist Party allows no independent parties to conduct verification and such apps have been used in past to suppress travel and free speech. It’s part of a package of apps that includes the health code, which has yet to be disabled.
The move follows the government’s snap announcement last week that it was ending many of the most draconian measures. That follows three years of lockdowns, travel restrictions and quarantines on those moving between provinces and cities, mandated testing, and requirements that a clean bill of health be shown to access public areas.
Last month in Beijing and several other cities, protests over the restrictions grew into calls for leader Xi Jinping and the ruling Communist Party step down, in a level of public political expression not seen in decades.
While met with relief, the relaxation has also sparked concerns about a new wave of infections potentially overwhelming health care resources in some areas.
Xi’s government is still officially committed to stopping virus transmission, the last major country to try. But the latest moves suggest the party will tolerate more cases without quarantines or shutting down travel or businesses as it winds down its “zero-COVID” strategy.
Facing a surge in COVID-19 cases, China is setting up more intensive care facilities and trying to strengthen hospitals’ ability to deal with severe cases.
At the same time, the government reversed course by allowing those with mild symptoms to recuperate at home rather than being sent to field hospitals that have become notorious for overcrowding and poor hygiene.
Reports on the Chinese Internet, which is tightly controlled by the government, sought to reassure a nervous public, stating that restrictions would continue to be dropped and travel, indoor dining and other economic activity would soon be returning to pre-pandemic conditions.
China’s leaders had long praised “zero-COVID” for keeping numbers of cases and deaths much lower than in other nations, but health officials are now saying the most prevalent omicron variety poses much less of a risk.
Amid a sharp drop in the amount of testing, China on Monday announced only around 8,500 new cases, bringing the nation’s total to 365,312 — more than double the level since Oct. 1 — with 5,235 deaths. That compares to 1.1 million COVID-19 deaths in the United States.
Protests erupted Nov. 25 after 10 people died in a fire in the northwestern city of Urumqi. Many believed COVID-19 restrictions may have impeded rescue efforts. Authorities denied the claims spread online, but demonstrators gave voice to longstanding frustration in cities such as Shanghai that have endured severe lockdowns.
The party responded with a massive show of force and an unknown number of people were arrested at the protests or in the days following.
Xi’s government promised to reduce the cost and disruption after the economy shrank by 2.6 percent from the previous quarter in the three months ending in June. Forecasters say the economy probably is shrinking in the current quarter. Imports tumbled 10.9 percent from a year ago in November in a sign of weak demand.
Some forecasters have cut their outlook for annual growth to below 3 percent, less than half of last year’s robust 8.1 percent expansion.
Amid the unpredictable messaging from Beijing, experts warn there still is a chance the ruling party might reverse course and reimpose restrictions if a large-scale outbreak ensues.
Last week’s announcement allowed considerable room for local governments to assign their own regulations. Most restaurants in Beijing, for example, still require a negative test result obtained over the previous 48 hours and rules are even stricter for government offices.

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