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MALAYSIA/POLITICS New Cabinet expected on Monday


March 14, 2008

New Cabinet expected on Monday

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is expected to announce his new Cabinet by Monday, the official news agency Bernama reported Wednesday.

Bernama quoted the prime minister as saying that the Cabinet would have its first meeting by next Wednesday, after announcing the Cabinet lineup on Monday.

The Cabinet, Abdullah said, would reflect the power-sharing concept of the Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition and include all communities. The coalition won 140 seats to have a simple majority in Parliament while the Opposition took 82.

Meanwhile, Associated Press reported of an Internet campaign mounted by some ruling party members demanding the prime minister's resignation after the ruling coalition suffered unprecedented losses in national elections over the weekend.

The campaign is seen as indicative of growing dissent against Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who has repeatedly insisted he will not step down and that he commands the loyalty of most members of his dominant United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).

A popular Web site called Maya Kmu Dot Net sought support this week for a petition urging Abdullah to "resign voluntarily as prime minister and UMNO president." Although anonymously run, it is known to be widely read by UMNO members because it features criticism about the party that cannot be aired in regular party forums, AP reported.

UMNO, whose members are from the ethnic Malay Muslim majority, forms the backbone of the governing National Front coalition. The election results were the worst ever for the 14-party coalition, which only retained control of eight of Malaysia's 13 states.

Abdullah took his oath of office Monday to remain prime minister for another five-year term. Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said this week that UMNO leaders would reject any calls for Abdullah to resign, adding there should not be "any speculation or effort to change leadership."

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