KUALA LUMPUR – June 28, 2016: The cabinet reshuffle yesterday signifies that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is consolidating Barisan Nasional ahead of the next general election two years from .
Political pundits who spoke to The Mole said the restructuring move is undertaken by Najib to further strengthen his position, as the new line-up comprises people who are worthy of his trust.
According to the analysts, the new appointments also indicated that the prime minister is entrusting several leaders to the primary tasks of recapturing the votes of Chinese community, as well as winning back Selangor from the opposition parties.
Associate Professor Dr Jeniri Amir of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak commented that Najib needs a sturdy and united team to face the oppositions, hence, it was timely for him to commence the reshuffle.
“The government will be assessed by the voters for its performance. Najib might realised that appointing leaders with higher potentials will help him manoeuvre his strategy better,” he said.
The analyst said, Najib is also rewarding his loyalists, who have continuously defended him when he was embattled with contentious allegations.
He said, this was noticeable in the appointment of Tan Sri Noh Omar as the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister.
“The former agriculture and agro-based industry minister has since remained loyal to Najib, despite of the ups and downs he faced in Selangor,” he added.
The analyst opined that the appointment of Datuk Seri Mah Siew Kiong, formerly minister in the PM’s Department, as Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister, was meant to help secure the Chinese votes bank.
“He (Najib) is entrusting Mah to safeguard the votes of the community, as well as to show the Chinese that the government is appreciating their votes,” he added.
Geo-strategist Dr Azmi Hassan of Perdana School and Geospatial Institute concurred, and said that Mah’s appointment signals Najib’s appreciation towards BN’s component party, Gerakan.
“The victory in the twin by-elections in Kuala Kangsar, Perak and Sungai Besar is partly due to Gerakan’s effort in wooing the Chinese voters.
“The positioned of Mah, who is the party president as a full minister is an elevation for Gerakan, with a renewed responsibility to strengthen the Chinese support,” he added.
Azmi said, Najib is also strategising the recapturing of Selangor, by placing Noh back in the cabinet.
“Noh is seen as the most appropriate and experienced state Umno politician to be given the particular task, as he will help minimise the state internal politicking,” he added.
Meanwhile, scores of Facebook users had responded positively to the announcement of the cabinet reshuffle.
Teh Keng Inn wrote, “Blessed with the new cabinet. May the new cabinet continue to work for the people and strive to be the best for Malaysians.”
“Congratulations to those who have been appointed,” Shaifuzain Ahmad commented, “I hope that the new ministers and deputy ministers will help retain the government’s integrity and unity. You are now the people’s hope and saviours.”
However, there were others who were sceptical about the new Cabinet line-up.
Mohammad Fadzly Hussain commented, “I don’t think that the reshuffle will bring any apparent benefit to the people, let alone to spur the country’s economy.”
KF Kuan wrote, “Najib’s mode of cabinet ministers is, ‘You are either with me or against me, no middle paths and no intelligence required. Just follow my subtle signals and you will be rewarded’.”