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Malaysian premier appoints new ministers for cabinet

27 June 2016 15:44

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Malaysian Prime Minster Najib Razak has reshuffled his cabinet in an attempt to strengthen the ruling coalition party.

Razak promoted two new lawmakers to become full ministers, and moved two of his loyalists into more powerful positions on Monday.

He appointed Mah Siew Keong, a senior ethnic Chinese politician, as plantation industry and commodities minister, he told a press conference.

Noh Omar, a leader in Najib’s United Malays National Organization (UMNO), was also appointed minister for urban wellbeing, housing and local government

The cabinet reshuffle raised speculations that he could call early election next year.

The prime minister has been under fire for being involved in a festering corruption scandal.

Opposition leaders, some ruling party members and former Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad called for the premier’s removal after he returned from a four-day visit to Saudi Arabia.

The scandal came to light in early July last year when the Wall Street Journal revealed that some $700 million had been transferred to Najib’s private accounts before the 2013 general election.

The report suggested that the money came from a state development fund.

Malaysia’s attorney general, however, cleared him of any criminal wrongdoing back in February. He said the money transferred into his account was from the Saudi royal family and was personal donations.

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