No Cabinet reshuffle, no new minister, says Dr Mahathir

It is only a change of portfolio. Even that I am not doing. When I do it, I will tell you, says PM

by AFIQ AZIZ/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

TUN Dr Mahathir Mohamad yesterday dismissed speculations of a Cabinet reshuffle as the 15-month-old Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) administration continued to be under fire over some of its decisions.

The prime minister (PM) also shot down talks of the entry of a new minister into the government.

“There is not going to be any Cabinet reshuffle, no new minister coming in,” he said after speaking to 1,500 government servants in Putrajaya yesterday.

Local dailies have been speculating of an imminent reshuffle, quoting unnamed sources within the government following the recent Cabinet meeting.

But Dr Mahathir said he commented on possible changes related to ministerial duties during the weekly meeting of ministers.

“I talked to the Cabinet, maybe we can change a bit on the portfolio, but as of now, not yet.

“It is only a change of portfolio. Even that I am not doing. When I do it, I will tell you. It will be revealed at a later time, if necessary,” said the PM, who remains coy of his next action.

Jeli MP Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed is speculated to return and join the PH Cabinet. Mustapa left Umno to join Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia in October last year.

The former Umno Supreme Council member was the international trade and industry minister under the Barisan Nasional government from April 2009 to May 2019.

He was also Dr Mahathir’s second finance minister during the latter’s first stint as PM.

Early this week, Sin Chew Daily and Oriental Daily had speculated that Mustapa would almost certainly be appointed to rejoin the government if a Cabinet reshuffle took place.

Speculations of possible changes to the Cabinet were further fuelled by a meeting of senior ministers with Dr Mahathir.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng yesterday dismissed talks of a Cabinet reshuffle or that he had submitted any list to the PM.

“The Cabinet will remain as it is, especially DAP ministers,” he said at an event in Putrajaya.

“The meeting between Dr Mahathir and ministers only discussed about government matters, nothing to do with that,” he added.

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin also brushed aside talks of any changes to her colleagues in the government.

“This was never brought up,” she said.

Dr Mahathir had previously rated five out of 10 on the performance of his ministers, but reiterated that many in the new government were new faces who would require time to learn the ropes.

The government is facing a storm as racial and religious incitements rise to the highest level in recent history. Issues related to the rare earth miner Lynas Corp Ltd, preacher Dr Zakir Naik’s presence in the country and the introduction of khat in vernacular schools have dogged the administration.

PH opponents have also stirred racial and religious sentiments to gain support from their followers.

But Dr Mahathir defended the present Cabinet colleague, claiming that most of them are doing better compared to when PH first formed the federal government.

“They are now have more experience, after one year compared to when they started,” Dr Mahathir.

“It is not (about) more than a year, but we will see their performance and behaviour, that all are taken into consideration,” he said.

Meanwhile, when addressing the government officers yesterday, Dr Mahathir said it was pertinent for government staff to change their attitude and behaviour in carrying out their duty.

He said they needed to be more cooperative towards the present government, ensuring that the federal operation would run smoothly for the good of the nation.

Dr Mahathir said government officers should understand the PH administration agenda to put the country back on track.

“The change of the government would certainly involve the change of policy and that is why the civil servants could not adapt to it, leading to misunderstandings and lack of cooperation with the new ruling government.

“So this has to be changed if we need the government to run smoothly for the benefits of the people.

“Loyalty must be to the government of the day, not the ruling political party. This dilemma, if it is not carefully handled, could ruin the future of the country,” Dr Mahathir warned.

This is not the first time the PM had sounded his ire over the loyalty by some sections in the public sector towards the new government.