KUALA LUMPUR, July 28—Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is the new deputy prime minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced today.
In a hasty press conference held in Putrajaya this afternoon, Prime Minister Najib confirmed rumours that Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin would be dropped as his deputy.
Rumours spread earlier today that Muhyiddin along with other ministers critical of Putrajaya’s handling of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) would be dropped as part of a Cabinet reshuffle.
“I can accept differences of opinion and criticism as part of the decision-making process. But as Cabinet members, differences of opinion shouldn’t be expressed openly that can affect public perception towards the government,” Najib said during the press conference.
“The decision to replace Muhyiddin was a very difficult one, but I had to do it so a strong team can move forward.”
Muhyiddin had during the weekend urged Najib to satisfactorily explain the 1MDB controversy, claiming that he and other ministers were unaware of the “real facts”.
This resulted in a rare public rebuke from the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday, which urged Muhyiddin and other members of the administration not to pre-judge the ongoing investigations on 1MDB.
According to Najib today, Zahid Hamidi will also continue to be home minister.
Four other ministers were dropped in the Cabinet reshuffle: Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, who was replaced by Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob; Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel, who was replaced by Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Wan Tuanku; Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Hasan Malek, who was replaced by Datuk Hamzah Zainudin; as well as Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Dr Ewon Ebin, who was replaced by Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau.
Muhyiddin’s Education Ministry portfolio was split into two: Education and Higher Education.
The new education minister is Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid and the new higher education minister is Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh.