PETALING JAYA: Eighteen months after winning the general elections last year, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, finally admitted there is a need for a Cabinet reshuffle.
Mahathir says the matter was raised during Bersatu party’s supreme council meeting yesterday afternoon during which they discussed the by-election.
He says a reshuffle is being looked into following the disastrous results of the Tanjung Piai by-election in Johor, in which the Barisan Nasional opposition won a massive victory.
After a post mortem of Tanjung Piai by-election last weekend, one of the proposed changes was to have a Cabinet reshuffle, he told reporters.
Without committing to any time frame, Mahathir did not discount the possibility that the reshuffle might take place before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit to be hosted by Malaysia in November next year.
However, he says the government must take into consideration the constraints of making “radical changes” ahead of such an important international event.
Dr Mahathir stresses that a decision on changes to the cabinet would not be done overnight as the ruling coalition would need to evaluate the performance of its ministers first.
Mahathir also mentioned he did not have absolute power to decide on the composition of the cabinet as he would still need to consider the views of other Harapan component parties.
“The constraint is that even though I am the PM, I have to give consideration to the component parties. I cannot change or drop (ministers) just like that,” he said.
When asked if he was the mentor for PKR deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali’s meeting with a group of BN (UMNO) opposition MPs on Monday night, he replied, “Maybe I’m a dictator, but I didn’t dictate this time,” he quipped.
He adds that he did not know the purpose of the meetings and that any conflict within PKR is an internal matter.
Azmin’s meeting with more than 20 MPs had caused a stir, as the rift in PKR continues to widen. The Umno MPs are also set to appear before the party’s disciplinary board.
Several leaders and political commentators called on Dr Mahathir to make way for PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, following Pakatan Harapan’s trouncing at the Tanjung Piai by-election on Nov 16.
Barisan Nasional’s Wee Jeck Seng won the by-election by an overwhelming majority of 15,086 votes, in the ruling coalition’s worst electoral defeat since coming to power last year.
Following the defeat, Dr Mahathir did not appear moved by rumours of attempts to remove him as prime minister through a no-confidence vote in the Parliament.
“You want to do anything, do it, you’re free,” “We’re a democratic country. You can move a vote of no confidence or you can move a vote of confidence,” the prime minister said.
M KRISHNAMOORTHY is a media coach, associate professor and a certified Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) trainer. As a journalist, he has highlighted society’s concerns and has gone undercover as a beggar, security guard, blind man, handicapped, salesman and as a Member of Parliament. He also freelances as a fixer/coordinator for CNN, BBC, German and Australian TV networks and the New York Times.