KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 — The Pakatan Harapan (PH) Cabinet never broached the topic of removing DAP’s Yeo Bee Yin as the environment minister, Datuk Salahuddin Ayub said.
Responding to DAP strategist Senator Liew Chin Tong’s assertion in a new book, the former agriculture and agro-based industry minister said Yeo’s supposed removal was also not discussed among the coalition’s leaders.
“This was never discussed in the Cabinet nor at the (PH) presidential council meeting,” he was quoted as saying by the Malaysiakini news portal.
“Formally, we never discussed this.”
Former deputy defence minister Liew wrote in the book titled Lim Kit Siang: Patriot. Leader. Fighter that then-prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had raised the matter of Yeo’s removal during a Cabinet meeting in August 2019.
Liew said he learned this from DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, who was Dr Mahathir’s finance minister at the time.
“At the Wednesday Cabinet meeting on Aug 21, 2019, Mahathir said that he wanted to make a minor change to the Cabinet portfolios.
“The news leaked and we were anxious,” he wrote.
Liew said Lim told him that Dr Mahathir wanted Yeo to be replaced ostensibly due to her recalcitrance on the Lynas issue and other environmental matters.
As the environment minister at the time, Yeo repeatedly tried to make Lynas repatriate the waste from its rare-earths refinery operations here to Australia.
Liew said Dr Mahathir did not go through with Yeo’s removal as other PH leaders were able to placate him.
After unexpectedly winning the 2018 general election, PH fell from power in early 2020 after Dr Mahathir resigned as the prime minister while Bersatu, his party at the time, withdrew from the coalition.