Cabinet reshuffle needed, but not now


A CABINET reshuffle is needed to improve the image of Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s current administration, but only after the crises hitting the nation — mainly the floods — are settled.

Rumours of a Cabinet reshuffle came to light early this week and several names have cropped up for replacement. It was also rumoured that the PM is looking to appoint a deputy from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.

Ismail Sabri, however, rejected the claims and said the government is focused on addressing more pressing issues, namely the floods and Covid-19.

University of Malaya political analyst Dr Mohammad Tawfik Yaakub opined that an immediate Cabinet reshuffle would be unfair to the victims, especially when the country is still battling the monsoon season, on top of the ongoing pandemic.

“If new ministers are appointed in the coming days, it would have an impact on the existing policies and strategies to overcome the crises because the new ministers would need to address the bigger issue that caused the floods and other natural disasters.

“We need a Cabinet reshuffle but maybe in three weeks, after we overcome the flood crisis,” Mohammad Tawfik told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) yesterday.

He said a Cabinet reshuffle is needed as several ministers in the administration are weighing down the government, thus portraying a negative image of the country.

Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Assoc Prof Dr Mohd Izani Mohd Zain shared the sentiment and said a reshuffle is needed if the government wants to enhance its competency.

“However, it is not easy to do a Cabinet reshuffle since the government needs support from all parties to form an administration.

“If the reshuffle involves a minister from a certain party, that party may revoke its support from the government,” he told TMR.

Meanwhile, the Singapore Institute of International Affairs senior fellow Dr Oh Ei Sun said the International Trade and Industry Ministry’s performance has been lukewarm under its minister, Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali.

Oh said the ministry has been unable to attract foreign investment into Malaysia while local businesses are subtly trying to leave the country.

“The economy is not picking up and Mohamed Azmin has to bear the responsibility. I think it is almost a consensus among the business community that he is quite incapable of leading the ministry.

“Ironically, he is rumoured to be the deputy PM, which of course does not spur business confidence,” TMR was told.

Oh also commented that Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz seemed to be presenting himself as a politician when he is not.

“I think the Umno mainstream faction will be all up in arms if the deputy PM does not come from their faction but instead comes from Bersatu. This will entrench their animosity towards one of their own, namely the PM,” he said.

On the other hand, Mohammad Tawfik viewed that Minister in the PM’s Department (Special Functions) Abdul Latiff Ahmad had failed to execute his duties in managing the disasters.

“I also think Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Harun should be replaced because her deputy seemed to outshine her and portray a better image during the floods,” he said.

Oh said the Cabinet reshuffle would not have a significant impact on the political memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the government and the Opposition bloc.

He said as long as the plans for political reform and the appropriations for the Opposition are maintained, the MoU is likely to stay.

However, Mohd Izani said the Cabinet reshuffle may influence the MoU if parties pull support from the government over a disagreement.

In September last year, the government and Pakatan Harapan signed a historic MoU dubbed the Political Transformation and Stability MoU to push for political stability.

It outlines six key areas that both political blocs will cooperate on including plans to enhance the Covid-19 plan, administrative transformation, parliamentary reform, judiciary independence, Malaysia Agreement 63 and the formation of a steering committee.