KUALA LUMPUR, May 27 — Barisan Nasional (BN) leader Isham Jalil slammed Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) and its president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for insisting that the ministerial post vacated by Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin belonged to the party under a quota.

At the same time, the Selangor BN information chief also questioned Bersatu’s rights to promote its leaders to the Cabinet, following strong rumours that the party’s secretary-general and current Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin was expected to be promoted as deputy prime minister.

“I would like to remind Muhyiddin that the prerogative to appoint the deputy prime minister and Cabinet ministers lies in the hands of the prime minister and not the Bersatu president.

“Muhyiddin cannot precede the prime minister and he has to leave the matter to Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to consider and make a decision.

“Muhyiddin has to accept the discretion and decision of the prime minister even if it is not in his favour,” said Isham after it was widely reported yesterday that Muhyiddin will claim the vacant plantation industries and commodities minister post under Bersatu’s quota.

This was after Zuraida announced her decision to join Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM) earlier yesterday.

The Ampang MP, who is in Turkey on a working trip, also said she would meet with Ismail Sabri soon to discuss her resignation as a minister.

Isham said that under the law, the post of minister is not the right of a party to determine, but it is the right of the prime minister.

The BN political strategist pointed out that according to the constitution there is no such thing as a party quota for the appointment of cabinet ministers.

“Muhyiddin needs to follow the law and not make his own law,” said Isham, criticising the former prime minister for his insistence to name Zuraida’s replacement.

Isham said even if Bersatu based their right to name Cabinet replacements on political considerations, it does not make sense to appoint a deputy prime minister and a minister from the party at this time.

He explained that Bersatu, being the Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) lynchpin, had lost badly in the recent state elections in Melaka and Johor.

“This clearly shows that the people have rejected them and the government positions they hold now are not mandated from the people,” he said, adding that when Bersatu left the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, the party had lost their democratic legitimacy.

Isham said that the current Bersatu ministers, who are known party jumpers, are incompetent.

He said any of them who are appointed in the Cabinet to be the deputy prime minister or even minister, will further weaken the administration and increase the people's negative perception of the government.

“At a time when the economic situation needs to be immediately restored and the price of goods is rising, these incompetent Bersatu ministers should be replaced instead of being recycled in the government.

“The country does not need incompetent ministers who are power-hungry and selfish. We need efficient, integrity-driven and principled ministers, especially at this critical time,” said Isham.

Following Zuraida’s announcement and her replacement yesterday, there were talks that a Cabinet reshuffle will be held soon, with Hamzah helming the deputy prime minister’s post in lieu of the vacant spot.

Such a move is believed to placate Bersatu, and at the same time give Ismail Sabri to serve as prime minister for a longer term until the five-year mandate expires.

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 by this year which would have made the administration’s term the shortest in the country’s history.