KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 11 — Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein is expected to be named deputy to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, according to The Malaysian Insight.

The news portal cited anonymous sources saying Hishammuddin could be appointed to the position as early as this week.

“Hisham will be deputy prime minister ASAP,” one of the unnamed sources was quoted saying.

However, the news portal also reported that other allies in the Perikatan Nasional (PN) grouping have yet to be informed of the proposal.

Hishammuddin is the Sembrong MP. He is currently not among the Umno supreme leadership council.

He has, however, held various leadership positions in Umno, including as Umno Youth chief. He was also formerly Umno vice-president until 2018 and did not contest in the party elections that year.

Muhyiddin, who is from Bersatu, did not name a deputy prime minister after taking power last March.

Instead, he appointed four “senior ministers” on March 9, 2020 to aid him in his duties, including chairing Cabinet meetings on his behalf if he was to be absent from the country.

The four senior ministers are International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali (formerly from PKR, now with Bersatu); Bersatu vice-president Mohd Radzi Md Jidin as education minister; Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (Umno); and Gabungan Parti Sarawak chief whip and Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) senior vice-president Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof as works minister.

Muhyiddin did not appoint any senior minister from PAS even though the Islamist party is a component of the PN coalition, which excludes Barisan Nasional.

Hishammuddin’s appointment, if it goes ahead as planned, is seen to bolster Muhyiddin’s shaky position following the withdrawal of support from an Umno MP.

Just two days ago on January 9, Machang MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub declared that he would no longer support the PN government and Muhyiddin as prime minister.

This has now left the PN government with 110 MPs supporting it, which means it no longer holds a simple majority in Parliament, but only half of the seats in the Dewan Rakyat.

In the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat, there are currently 220 MPs with two seats vacant after two MPs died last year and with by-elections deferred due to the Covid-19 pandemic. With 220 MPs, a simple majority required to form government would be 111 MPs.

Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi after its supreme council meeting last week said a motion to sever ties with Bersatu will be decided in the January 31 Umno general assembly.