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May 20 , 1999 10:13AM




KUALA LUMPUR, May 20 (Bernama) -- Two senior ministers -- Datuk Seri Mohamed Rahmat and Datuk Seri Sabbaruddin Chik -- were dropped from the Cabinet and a new Menteri Besar for Pahang appointed in a reshuffle announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad today.

Pahang Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalil Yaakob replaces Mohamed as Information Minister. Senior Pahang Executive Councillor Datuk Adnan Yaakob has been named the new Menteri Besar of Pahang.

Khalil has also been appointed Secretary-General of Umno, succeeding Sabbaruddin.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Kadir Sheikh Fadzir was promoted to take over from Sabbaruddin as Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister.

Datuk Pandikar Amin Mulia, president of Sabah Barisan Nasional component party Akar, was named Minister in the Prime Minister's Department.

Both he and Khalil will be sworn in as senators on May 24 to enable them to take up the appointment.

Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Azmi Khalid took over from Kadir as Deputy Home Minister, while Parliamentary Secretary to the Information Minister moved up as deputy minister to succeed Azmi.

Dr Mahathir in a news conference at his office said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had consented to the appointment of the three ministers and that of Khalil and Pandikar Amin as senators.

The appointment of ministers and deputy ministers will take effect on May 25 after they are sworn in before the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Dr Mahathir said Sabbaruddin had also resigned as Umno Secretary-General to be replaced by Khalil while Mohamed would remain as Secretary-General of the Barisan Nasional.

He said the Cabinet changes were made following the resignation of Mohamed and Sabbaruddin as well as Datuk Chong Kah Kiat who relinquished his post as Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in February to contest the Sabah state election.

Answering a question, he said: " Perhaps we can regard these changes as a move to strengthen the government machinery".

"The ministers who resigned from their posts have also carried out their duties well. But in view of their resignations, we have to make replacements," he said.

Asked whether the opposition would make speculations over the matter, the prime minister said that they would do so.

Dr Mahathir said that Mohamed and Sabbaruddin tendered their letters of resignation two weeks ago. Asked by a reporter about Sabbaruddin's remark yesterday that he was asked to resign, the prime minister replied: "Sabbaruddin saw me and said he would like to resign. And no, it is not because of health reasons".

Sabbaruddin reportedly said on Saturday that he had kidney problems but stressed it was not serious. -- MORE


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