Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia today appointed a new Transport Minister to replace Hishammuddin Hussein amid criticism over the government’s failure to trace Flight MH370 missing for over three months.
Hishammuddin, 50, who is also the Defence Minister of the country, took over as acting transport minister after the post was left vacant following the last general elections in 2013.
He was the country’s face on TV channels across the world in the search for the Malaysia Airlines plane that disappeared on March 8 with 239 people, including five Indians aboard.
Prime Minister Najib Razak appointed former health minister Liow Tiong Lai as the new Transport Minister.
Liow is the president of the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), a component of the ruling coalition of Barisan Nasional party.
MCA refused to accept any cabinet posts last year after a poor electoral performance amid anger among ethnic Chinese and other minorities about perceived discrimination by the ethnic Malay-dominated coalition.
Besides Liow, two other ethnic Chinese politicians were also named ministers, and three others deputy ministers.
“These appointments reflect my desire to ensure that the make-up of the Cabinet, and the government, broadly reflects that of our nation,” he said.
Najib’s Barisan Nasional coalition, which has ruled the country since 1957 independence, was re-elected in May last year though it lost the popular vote for the first time.
The move to appoint a new Transport Minister comes amid the government’s failure to trace the plane that went missing enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
The plane is believed to have veered far off course and crashed into the southern Indian Ocean.
But an extensive search in the Indian Ocean off western Australia has failed to find any clue so far.
Relatives of the people aboard have accused the government of doing too little and hiding information over the missing plane.