Cabinet reshuffle after Pelangai by-election?

23 Sep 2023 09:49am
Johari, Adly, Sivakumar names among those mentioned in the possible cabinet reshuffle.
Johari, Adly, Sivakumar names among those mentioned in the possible cabinet reshuffle.

SHAH ALAM - Speculation about a cabinet reshuffle in the Unity Government gets more intense, with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim expected to consider it after the Pelangai State Legislative Assembly by-election in Pahang on Oct 7.

This was revealed by a senior DAP leader who preferred not to be named, who suggested that Anwar would assess the performance of candidates from the Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition in the by-election before making minor cabinet changes.

He emphasised that despite the need for the 10th Prime Minister to evaluate the performance of BN-PH in the Pelangai by-election, any cabinet reshuffle was already unavoidable, as the Unity Government's tenure was nearing one year.

"Based on the information I've received, PMX will wait for the results of the Pelangai by-election before he carries out the cabinet reshuffle.

"This is to avoid diverting the focus and morale of the election machinery if the reshuffle is done earlier, which would have a negative impact on the parties involved," he said to Sinar Premium yesterday.

He made these comments in response to reports in Sinar Premium that Anwar was considering a cabinet reshuffle following the vacancy left by the Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry, the late Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub, who died in July.

Among the speculations was that Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was expected to return to the Home Affairs Ministry, while the current minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, was said to take over the Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry.

There was also speculation that the Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry would continue to be held by a candidate from Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah), with Deputy Defence Minister Adly Zahari mentioned as a possible candidate for the position.

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If these speculations come true, Saifuddin, who is also the PKR Secretary-General is expected to take over the portfolio of the Federal Territories and Rural Development Ministry currently held by Zahid.

In addition to the reshuffling of important ministry portfolios, several other ministries were expected to be involved in the restructuring, including the proposal to re-establish the Federal Territories Ministry, The Finance Ministry II and the Human Resources Ministry.

To fill the vacancy of the Federal Territories Minister, Umno Vice President Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani was among those mentioned as a top candidate from Umno-BN, although many political observers believe he was more suitable for the position of Finance Minister II.

Meanwhile, the status of the Human Resources Minister V Sivakumar, was also rumoured to be among those to be dropped from the new Prime Minister cabinet lineup, and a senior DAP leader admitted that discussions on the matter had indeed been held within the party's leadership before.

"I recall discussions about it are ongoing, but there has been no decision made between Anwar and Anthony (Loke).

"As for whether he (Sivakumar) is indeed being replaced or not, you should ask Anthony for the final say.

"Even if I knew, I couldn't comment further," the source revealed.

However, DAP Women's Chief Teo Nie Ching said she had no information about any internal party meetings discussing the positions of any ministers in the cabinet, including Sivakumar.

"So far, I haven't been involved in any discussions (about the possibility of a cabinet reshuffle involving DAP ministers)," she said via WhatsApp to Sinar Premium.

Asked whether the cabinet reshuffle speculation was just a rumour the Communications and Digital deputy minister declined to provide a direct answer, instead commenting, "Or maybe it's beyond my knowledge..."

In the meantime, veteran DAP leader Charles Santiago believed that if the speculation of Sivakumar being dropped from the ministerial position became a reality, Prime Minister did not need to normalise the decision of appointing ministers solely among parliamentarians or politicians supporting the government.

Instead, he suggested that the Prime Minister explore the opportunity of appointing experts from among academic figures, civil servants, corporate individuals, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), where the individuals appointed proved to make significant contributions to the relevant ministries and could get the job done.

"I believe that the decision of a cabinet reshuffle is already unavoidable, as Anwar needs to do it soon," he said.

"However, this time, Anwar needs to have the political courage to choose individuals who have proven to be capable of doing the job and have out-of-the-box thinking.

"It is important to understand that Anwar only has three years left to realise the agenda of the Madani Government, and the honeymoon period for this government has already ended," said the National Water Services Commission (SPAN) chairman.

For Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) Faculty of Technology & Information, Razak Faculty lecturer at the Perdana Centre Associate Professor Dr Mazlan Ali, a cabinet reshuffle after the Pelangai by-election was a practical practice, considering the real performance of the Cabinet, which was usually evaluated after 100 days of government administration.

He said that if it was proven that any minister has failed to achieve the set key performance indicators (KPIs), Anwar, who currently has strong support from nearly two-thirds of parliamentarians (147 people), would not have much trouble in reshuffling the Cabinet.

"I think if Anwar is really considering a cabinet reshuffle, it is to strengthen and improve the existing government administration spaces.

"However, for now, it is not suitable for PMX to carry out major reshuffles.

"Perhaps the reorganisation of ministry portfolios that could be considered by him involves the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs), the Communications and Digital, Economy Ministry and the Human Resources Ministry," he said.