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Two Chinese language dailies in Malaysia sparked rumours there is a Cabinet reshuffle on the cards and that an ex-Umno minister will join the Pakatan Harapan ministerial lineup.
Rumours have been circulating in Kuala Lumpur since the month of Ramadan that former international trade and industry minister Mustapa Mohamed will join Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s cabinet.
The rumours also say he will get a high post in the Cabinet, and at least two or three ministers may lose their portfolio.
The Chinese language daily the Oriental Daily says Mustapa is almost certain to become a minister.
With his vast experience, his inclusion will add an experienced politician to the cabinet which is lacking in the current PH cabinet.
Dr Mahathir first ‘reformasi’ cabinet is made-up of rookie ministers, except for the PM himself and Muhyiddin Yassin, Home Minister.
Muhyiddin served under Dr Mahathir and under former Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and under Najib Razak.
Reformist groups who support Anwar Ibrahim, the prime-minister-to-be, are campaigning for him to get a ministerial post. They say it will help Dr Mahathir in running the country and setting a target for his retirement.
Anwar as a minister in the current cabinet may also strengthen the reform agenda, they say.
However, another Chinese language paper, the Sinchew Daily says Mahathir has informed ministers about the upcoming reshuffle during yesterday’s cabinet meeting and met with Pakatan Harapan leaders to discuss the matter last night.
The newspapers believe Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail will keep her post as deputy prime minister.
In May, Dr Mahathir gave a grading of 5.0 to his cabinet, saying they are rookies and are still behaving as if they were in the opposition.
Later on, he said they were learning the ropes quickly but public anger rose against him for controversial decisions over certain issues including allowing the Lynas rare earth plant to continue its operation in Malaysia, the introduction of khat (Islamic calligraphy) in schools and the controversy surrounding Muslim preacher Dr Zakir Naik.
A few weeks ago, Dr Mahathir had denied rumours of a Cabinet reshuffle. He repeatedly said there would be no such thing.
The Star daily says senior Cabinet ministers have denied the Prime Minister brought up the issue of a Cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday (Aug 21).
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said Wednesday’s meeting between Dr Mahathir and senior ministers only discussed government matters that have nothing to do with a Cabinet reshuffle. -/TISG
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