Will Zahid helm the Home Ministry once again?

21 Sep 2023 10:22am
From the left: Anwar, Saifuddin, Zahid
From the left: Anwar, Saifuddin, Zahid

SHAH ALAM - After two months of Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub's death, the question still lingers on who the potential candidate would be to replace him.

After the elections for six states along with the two by-elections in Pulai Parliament and the Simpang Jeram state assembly in Johor, prime minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had yet to give any clear indication towards when the vacancy left behind by Salahuddin would be filled.

Anwar’s responses to reporters were only statements that he was still open to receiving capable candidate names and suggestions to be considered for the minister role.

With the public facing the pressure of price hikes and the decline in basic food items starting from sugar, chicken, eggs, rice and most recently onions and chilli, parties had urged to hasten the appointment of the new minister.

There were several names of leaders from Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) such as deputy Defence Minister Adly Zahari and former health minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad who were said to be those who would replace the late Salahuddin as the ministry post was considered the status quo right of the party under the unity government.

However, recent speculations had arisen that Anwar was expected not only to fill the Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister vacancy, but to consider a Cabinet reshuffle ahead of the Parliamentary session for the Budget 2024 tabling.

Anwar (right) in a press conference - BERNAMA PIX
Anwar (right) in a press conference - BERNAMA PIX

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There was a possibility considering the four factors that former Klang MP Charles Santiago previously mentioned.

Charles previously said that Anwar might be forced to consider a Cabinet reshuffle as the performance of several ministers were below satisfactory and the poor performance of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) and BN in the recent state elections and by-elections.

Two other factors brought up by the National Water Management Commission (Span) chairman were the suggestion to return the Federal Territories Ministry and Finance Minister II to ease the burden of responsibility of the prime minister as well as the need for an ideal ministerial reshuffle according to the more critical portfolio order.

Following that, a source close to a BN minister said the Cabinet reshuffle, whether big or small was the most realistic matter Anwar would implement.

This matter considered the current political scenario factor and the need to raise the public’s confidence towards the unity government.

“Currently it is being said that there’s a high probability that the Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail would change ministerial portfolios by taking over the vacant Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister post.

“If that happens, the Home Affairs Minister position may return towards the BN chairman Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as the prime minister would need the most trusted leader to carry out the critical portfolio,” the Umno source who was also a main leader for the Youth wing in a southern state.

The Umno source revealed the possibility that the Rural and Regional Development Ministry post currently held by BN in a status quo would be handed over to Amanah in return for the party being forced to relinquish the Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister post to a PKR representative.

“The justification why Saifuddin was chosen to resume responsibilities as minister was due to his excellent experience in steering the portfolio in the PH government’s administration for 22 months.

“For Zahid, as the second top leader behind Anwar must hold a more important ministerial portfolio. With the experience of handling the Home Ministry in the BN government under former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Zahid showed a good performance.

“The controversial court decision to provide Zahid the dismissal not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) recently I think is no longer an issue as all stakeholders including Anwar himself had given the appropriate justification,” the source explained.

The BN source claimed several ministerial portfolios were projected to be reintroduced namely the Federal Territories Ministry and the Finance Minister II, but the selection of candidates were not going to be among BN leaders.

“By only securing 30 parliamentary seats BN realises the party could not demand for more Cabinet posts as they needed to give way to 17 other parties that are with the unity government.

“If there was an opportunity to increase ministerial positions among BN MPs even just once, Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani was seen as having the highest chance to be appointed as Finance Minister II on the basis of his expertise in the economic and financial field,” the source said.

To receive confirmation on the BN source’s information, Sinar Premium is currently attempting to gain a response from the Senior Political Secretary to prime minister Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Mohamad Akin.

Meanwhile, Public Works Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi and Deputy Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister Fuziah Salleh when contacted did not rule out the possibility that the prime minister would carry out a Cabinet reshuffle to strengthen the nation’s administrative structure.

Alexander said the matter was ultimately left towards the prime minister as it was his prerogative right if the unity government had a reason to do so.


“Until now, we (Cabinet) were not given any indications. However, personally, I think if the prime minister wanted to do a Cabinet reshuffle, it is not impossible.

“However, if there is no pressing need, continue maintaining the Cabinet lineup. I think the duration of not even a year is too early for a Cabinet reshuffle. However, it was all dependent on the rights and powers of the prime minister,” the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) secretary-general said.

Fuziah when asked regarding the rumours of a Cabinet reshuffle answered briefly and said ‘maybe’.

The former Kuantan MP from PKR stated she was unsure whether the Cabinet reshuffle would be done by the prime minister was a need currently.


“I have a lot of work (Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry portfolio), I don’t have time to look at other ministry performances,” she said.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) Datuk Armizan Mohd Ali and Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Liew Chin Tong refused to give a statement on the potential Cabinet reshuffle.