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Date: 06 Dec 1999
Malaysian opposition leader calls for 'leaner, smarter" cabinet
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 5 (AFP) - A Malaysian opposition leader called Sunday for a "leaner and smarter" cabinet, with a smaller representation from Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's ruling party.
Democratic Action Party chairman Lim Kit Siang said the previous 71-member cabinet, comprising 28 ministers, 31 deputy ministers and 12 parliamentary secretaries, should be reduced to 65.
"Experience have shown that many ministers, deputy ministers and parliamentary secretaries warm their seats and collect their ministerial pay without doing any much work -- not even attending parliament meetings to account for their responsibilities," he said in a statement.
Lim said the representation of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the backbone of the National Front coalition, should also be reduced in line with the lower number of parliamentary seats it won.
The National Front won 148 of 193 parliamentary seats in Monday's polls. Of the total, UMNO secured 72 seats compared with 88 previously.
Lim said UMNO accounted for 41 posts in the outgoing cabinet, with 17 ministers, 18 deputy ministers and six parliamentary secretaries.
But its representation in a new 65-strong cabinet should only be 28 -- "comprising probably 13 ministers, 12 deputy ministers and three parliamentary secretaries," he said.
There should correspondingly be an increase of posts for the National Front's other component parties which fared better than UMNO, he added.
Mahathir is expected next week to name his cabinet, likely to include a host of new faces after at least seven ministerial posts fell vacant.
Four ministers were defeated -- Second Finance Minister Mustapa Mohamed, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Megat Junid Megat Ayob, Rural Development Minister Annuar Musa and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Abdul Hamid Othman.
Defence Minister Abang Abu Bakar and Human Resources Minister Lim Ah Lek did not seek re-election, while Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tajol Rosli Ghazali contested a state seat.
Another six deputy ministers were also defeated in the polls.