Last Friday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced his cabinet line-up. Named the Entrepreneur and Cooperatives Development Minister was Ewon Benedick, the Member of Parliament for Penampang, Sabah.
Prior to this, the 39-year-old had served as State Minister of Rural Development of Sabah of the WARISAN (Sabah Heritage Party) from May 2018 to September 2020.
He has also served as a member of the Sabah State Legislative Assembly for Kadamaian since May 2018. According to The Borneo Post, under Ewon’s leadership, development worth an estimated RM18 million was brought into Kadamaian from 2018 to 2020.
Ewon was reported to have contributed in terms of kampung road upgrades, bridges, a gymnasium, sports court, community tourism, rural entrepreneurship buildings, and various touchpoint programmes.
The Sabahan is also a member and Vice President of the United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (UPKO), of which he is the President-elect.
According to Malay Mail, Ewon is known for being a “down-to-earth, hardworking leader”, and has even been described by The Borneo Post as a “Kampung boy” or “boy of the village”, reflecting his approachability.
Ewon’s educational background includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science (Software Development) from Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka.
What’s his purview?
Formed in 1974, this ministry was initially known as the Kementerian Penyelarasan Perdanan Awam (KPPA). Today, it’s known as Kementiaran Pembangunan Usahawan & Koperasi (KUSKOP), or Ministry of Entrepreneur and Cooperatives Development (MECD).
The mission of this ministry is to create a holistic and conducive entrepreneurial ecosystem to support the country’s inclusive, sustainable, and competitive development agenda in order to make Malaysia a “superior entrepreneurial country”.
Beyond that, it seems to focus on uplifting marginalised communities, with one of its functions including cultivating the youth, women, the B40 community, people with disabilities, and more.
The ministry is also concerned with enhancing access to inclusive financing as well as providing platforms and assistance to Malaysians.
Preceding Ewon, the cabinet position was held by Tan Sri Noh bin Haji Omar from Barisan Nasional.
What will his policies look like?
Judging by Ewon’s vocalness on Sabahan rights, he will likely be putting heightened importance on East Malaysia’s economic and entrepreneurial developments as the new Entrepreneur and Cooperatives Development Minister.
He himself has said that he would be using his voice to raise issues on Sabah’s rights, according to Bernama. The article also reported that Ewon said his mandate is crucial for entrepreneurs’ development, a task he is “looking forward to pursuing”.
Under its previous minister, Tan Sri Noh Omar, the Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Ministry had proposed seven new initiatives to reach out to entrepreneurs for Budget 2023.
Noh had also told reporters that these initiatives would assist all types of entrepreneurs, including informal and micro-entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises. However, it is still unclear today what exactly those seven initiatives are.
Although, some of these policies have likely been reflected in the Budget 2023 tabled prior to GE15. Whether Ewon will pick up from where Tan Sri Noh Omar left off remains to be seen.
According to analysts that spoke to Malay Mail, Malaysians should expect to see a “bigger, bolder” federal spending plan in the new government’s Budget 2023.
With Ewon Benedick at the helm of the MECD, perhaps additional focus on Sabahan or even rural communities will be visible.
- Learn more about the Ministry of Entrepreneur and Cooperatives Development here.
- Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysia here.
Featured Image Credit: Ewon Benedick