KUALA LUMPUR, May 26 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob is expected to announce a Cabinet reshuffle next week, sources have said in a move that is believed will ensure his government can last until the end of the Parliamentary term.
Several sources from government lynchpin parties Umno and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia told Malay Mail that this move was prompted by Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin’s recent defection, with Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin from her party expected to be promoted as deputy prime minister in return.
“She would be dropped in the reshuffle, so she resigns,” said a source from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, referring to Zuraida who is the minister of plantation industries and commodities.
This point was backed by other sources from the two parties, who wished to remain anonymous.
Yesterday, Zuraida officially announced her entry into Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM) after months of speculations, and said she would talk to Ismail Sabri to resign from her ministerial post.
The Ampang MP became a Bersatu supreme council member after walking out of PKR in February 2020, which had then led to the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration that followed the 2018 general election.
Other sources from Ismail Sabri’s camp also suggested that Bersatu will be compensated with the deputy prime minister post as a way to ensure that the current government will stay intact.
The post has been vacant since Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s Perikatan Nasional administration that took over from PH, which saw senior ministers appointed instead from the coalition’s component parties.
Ismail Sabri himself held a 40-day stint as the DPM under Muhyiddin in a move that similarly aimed to placate Umno, but ultimately blew back as Muhyiddin was forced to resign as prime minister in August last year and Ismail Sabri then replaced him.
“With support from other MPs in Cabinet and Dewan Rakyat, Ismail can stabilise and ensure that the government can serve until next year to help the people.
“A DPM from Bersatu would ensure that,” said a source.
Another source told Malay Mail that the leading contender for the post would be Hamzah, who is the secretary-general for Bersatu.
“Hamzah would be a fine man and suited for the job,” the source told Malay Mail.
Hamzah won the Larut Parliament seat under Umno in 2018, before joining Bersatu with nine other Umno MPs in 2019.
He was then appointed as Bersatu secretary-general and home minister in 2020 after the so-called “Sheraton Move”.
Earlier this year, Hamzah was even rumoured to defect to Umno along with another minister from Bersatu. Hamzah had then downplayed the suggestion, calling such a claim “psychological warfare”.
A Cabinet reshuffle would come amid a push among some Umno factions for Ismail Sabri to call for a dissolution of Parliament and hold a general election, which would have made the administration’s term the shortest in the country’s history.
Umno had also earlier this month approved amendments to its party constitution to allow internal polls to be delayed until six months after a general election in years these coincide — with the election scheduled for this year now set after the 15th general election.