KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 4 — Malaysia may have a deputy prime minister again under the current administration led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Citing an unnamed source, Utusan Malaysia today reported Ismail Sabri met his predecessor and Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday to discuss this matter and may make the announcement next week.
“Nothing’s been decided yet, it may be next week after the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. By right Ismail Sabri should have met Muhyiddin today [yesterday] to discuss this matter in particular the minister and deputy ministers in Bersatu,” the source told the Umno-linked newspaper.
According to Utusan, there are three nominees who are all from Bersatu: Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu, and International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali.
“However, Muhyiddin is leaning more towards Azmin. When Muhyiddin was prime minister he trusted Azmin to take over as prime minister when he was not around,” the source was quoted saying.
The source said Ahmad Faizal’s chances to become deputy prime minister for Bersatu is still in early negotiation stages.
“Faizal Azumu’s position is still being negotiated because he is the deputy president for Bersatu, meaning he is the second most powerful man in Bersatu after Muhyiddin in the current Cabinet,” the source told Utusan.
If Ahmad Faizal is appointed DPM, then his current post as youth and sports minister will go to Umno information chief Shahril Hamdan.
“This is to even out the number of Umno and Bersatu ministers in Ismail Sabri’s Cabinet,” the source told Utusan.
Malaysia currently does not have a deputy prime minister, which had been the convention until Muhyiddin became the eighth PM in February 2020.
It was not until July last year that Muhyiddin appointed Ismail Sabri to be his deputy. Subsequently, he stepped down from office, making way for the Umno vice-president.
Ismail Sabri continued Muhyiddin’s initiative when he became PM and appointed four senior ministers to his Cabinet.
They are: Azmin, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein from Umno, Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof from Sarawak-based Parti Pesaka Bumiputera, and Education Minister Datuk Radzi Jidin from Bersatu.