KUALA LUMPUR – July 28, 2015: Political analysts contacted after the Cabinet reshuffle today mostly were of the opinion that the change-up was the right move to strengthen the administration of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
They, however, disagreed on the motive behind the drastic move of dropping Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin from the deputy prime minister and education minister posts.
Other ministers who were dropped along with Muhyiddin were Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (Rural and Regional Development), Datuk Seri Hasan Malek (Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism), Datuk Seri G. Palanivel (Natural Resources and Environment) and Datuk Dr Ewon Ebin (Science, Technology and Innovation).
Muhyiddin’s dismissal followed his open criticisms of the way 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) issue was handled during his closing speech at the Umno Cheras division annual meeting on Sunday.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia lecturer Associate Professor Samsul Adabi Mamat said that Muhyiddin’s axing did not really come as a surprise.
“There had been rumours that he (Muhyiddin) wanted to step down from his position since October last year. I do not think this came as a shocker for Muhyiddin himself.
“Appointing Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as the replacement was a good restructuring measure. He is just as credible as Muhyiddin,” he said.
Samsul added that the adjustment was needed in bracing for the next general election which is scheduled to hold in less than three years.
“This is not an action to safeguard Najib’s position. It is to strengthen the government,” said Samsul.
Sharing the same view was Universiti Utara Malaysia senior lecturer Associate Professor Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani.
He said that getting rid of Muhyiddin was a fair decision by Najib.
“He was being very critical towards Najib’s leadership and in a boat, there cannot be two captains; one would have to go.
“The decision was appropriate to ensure all ministers are united behind the prime minister in bracing challenges in the future,” he said.
Azizudin however acknowledged the delicate pathway that Umno is now on since Muhyiddin is an influential figure in Johor, which happens to be one of the party’s strongholds.
“He is after all the former state Menteri Besar who has his own loyal supporters. His elimination from the Cabinet would definitely give an impact towards Umno’s standing in Johor,” he added.
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak senior lecturer Dr Jeniri Amir was however holding a differing opinion as he insisted that Muhyiddin’s dismissal was Najib’s plan to secure his position and strengthen his political standing.
“Najib realised that this would give a significant negative impact on Umno and Barisan Nasional but he did it anyway. He wanted to ensure that the Cabinet members remain loyal to him.
“It is strategic on Najib’s side but I am not sure if it is for the country. Which is more important, his position or the well-being of the country?” he asked.
Jeniri told The Mole that he was of the belief that the removal of Muhyiddin after he openly spoke up on the 1MDB issue would only worsen the public perception towards Najib’s administration.