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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 March, 2004, 12:25 GMT
Malaysia cabinet keeps old guard
By Jonathan Kent
BBC, Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia's Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi
Mr Abdullah shied away from a major cabinet shake-up
The Malaysian prime minister has reshuffled his cabinet following his ruling coalition's overwhelming victory in last Sunday's general election.

However, Abdullah Badawi has not made the sweeping changes widely expected.

Mr Abdullah promised Malaysians change and a clean government. Opposition leaders have described the appointments as flawed.

It was expected that the new prime minister would remove ministers close to his predecessor Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Dr Mahathir is blamed by many for the rise of cronyism and sleaze. But many of the old faces remain.

Malaysia's ministers for international trade, for entrepreneur development and for public works have all found themselves embroiled in scandal, but all have kept their positions.

Mr Abdullah said all were clean. Most other senior cabinet posts remain unchanged; nor is Mr Abdullah delegating much of his own heavy workload.

Although he has enlarged the cabinet and created new ministries, the prime minister is keeping his finance portfolio and half of his home ministry responsibilities.

'Failed test'

Mr Abdullah has however brought in or promoted a number of younger politicians, notably Hishammuddin Hussein - the son of Malaysia's third prime minister. He takes over the education ministry.

The reshuffle has not impressed opposition leader Lim Kit Siang, who called the new cabinet "bloated" and "flabby".

He said that Mr Abdullah had "failed the first acid test" of his commitment to root out corruption.

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