Can the PM hold two ministerial portfolios?

Veena Babulal and Mohd Iskandar Ibrahim

KUALA LUMPUR: Pakatan Harapan leaders say they will meet to discuss concerns over the possibility that the prime minister’s act of holding two ministerial portfolios goes against their election manifesto. Concerns were raised following Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s announcement on Thursday that apart from being Prime Minister, he would also be assuming another cabinet post, that of Education Minister. Parti Amanah Negara deputy president Salahuddin Ayub said that the matter would be raised in their next meeting. “But I still have to check this because as far I remember, the manifesto that was agreed upon earlier was that the Prime Minister cannot hold the Finance Ministry portfolio. I also need to look at the manifesto again.” “We will discuss this matter further at our next meeting together,” he said. Meanwhile, DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang in a tweet admitted that he was "stumped" by revelation. He said: "Confess that I am stumped myself. Apart from PM cannot be FM (Finance Minister), (I am) not aware that PH manifesto also proposed that a PM could not hold another portfolio." DAP national organising secretary Anthony Loke however was hesitant to comment. “I don’t want to say anything. Why don’t you ask the PM,” he replied. When pressed further, he said DAP and the coalition leaders would discuss the matter further. They were responding to a Malaysiakini report, which quoted a PKR source as saying that PH leaders at the presidential council meeting Thursday morning did not object when Dr Mahathir revealed he wanted the education minister portfolio. This, said the source, was due to a misunderstanding over the coalition’s manifesto. "When Tun (Dr Mahathir) announced he will be taking the Education Ministry portfolio, no one objected. "Everyone in the meeting was like, 'Oh, okay.' We thought that he should not be holding the finance portfolio simultaneously as a prime minister," Malaysiakini quoted a PKR source as saying.

A sreengrab of the Pakatan Harapan’s Buku Harapan manifesto.

Observers have noted that this appears to contradict one of the key pledges made in PH’s Buku Harapan manifesto, contained on page 38, under the section ‘Pillar 2: Institutional and Political Reform’. Under the section, listed under ‘Promise 12: Limit the Prime Minister’s term of office and restructure the Prime Minister’s Department’, the manifesto states that “The Prime Minister will not simultaneously hold other ministerial posts, especially the post of Minister of Finance.” Gerakan and MCA leaders had drawn attention to Dr Mahathir’s dual-minister role and claimed that PH appeared to be back pedaling on its promise on its manifesto, which states that the prime minister shall not hold any other ministerial post, especially that of the finance minister. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd