KUALA LUMPUR – June 22, 2015: A reshuffle of the Cabinet is likely in the near future if Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is to strengthen his administration which is currently facing intense criticisms.
Speculations on the matter has been one of the main topics of discussion in cyberspace for the past few weeks.
Several names have been bandied as possible replacements for current Cabinet ministers who were deemed to have not performed well since appointed more than two years ago.
One of them is former Works Minister Datuk Seri Shaziman Abu Mansor who was said to be a favourite to return for a senior ministerial post.
A close aide of the Tampin member of parliament had however told The Mole that his boss was not interested to become a minister again.
“I don’t think Shaziman will want to go back to the Cabinet. He is not interested,” the aide said.
Asked whether Shaziman would instead accept other roles to assist Najib similar to those previously held by the late Tan Sri Jamaluddin Jarjis, the aide replied in the affirmative.
“Yes, he (Shaziman) would help the prime minister in such a role. He wants to assist in whatever ways he can,” he added.
The aide however was not specific on whether Shaziman will take over Jamaluddin’s posts such as the Chairman of 1 Malaysia Peoples’ Housing (PR1MA) and Malaysian special envoy to the United States of America.
Shaziman’s possible return to assist Najib’s administration had drawn the attention of senior journo Datuk Ahirudin Atan of Rocky’s Bru who wrote about it in his blog posting today.
“I used to be skeptical of this Tampin MP but by opting to leave his ministerial post to focus on his constituency after the last general election, thus allowing others a shot at the Cabinet, Shaziman confirmed he was far from selfish, the kind of man the prime minister badly needs around him now,” he wrote.
Intense speculations of a Cabinet revamp have started early this month with a report claiming that it could be right after the Hari Raya festivities, next month.
Blogger Zakhir Mohammed, better known as Big Dog wrote in his blog yesterday that the time has come for Najib to consider the reshuffle.
He said it should be the right move for the prime minister as the current 13th parliament is already half-way through its term.
“The cabinet reshuffle is intended to further strengthen Najib’s leadership so that all agendas planned through policies formation can be implemented without a hitch and meet the original design.
“Barisan Nasional’s manifesto also need to be determined its implementation as indicated in the Akur-Janji made by the BN chairman at that time.
“In addition, it would overcome the challenges of internal political pressure,” wrote Zakhir, as he reiterated that a rejuvenation of Cabinet is crucial despite its scale.
Zakhir in the posting had also suggested potential new members of the cabinet.
He among others suggested for Najib to delegate his current finance minister post to Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar, who is currently a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Economic Planning.
He had also proposed the Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to let go of his Education Minister post to Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who currently the Home Minister.
Meanwhile, political observers were divided on whether there is a need for Najib to reshuffle his Cabinet.
Universiti Utara Malaysia senior lecturer Associate Professor Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani when contacted by The Mole said that the improvement of the current administration can be done without such a reshuffle.
“I think the current line-up is already effective. They just need to strengthen the policies which can be done through the ministries instead of replacing the existing ministers.
“In addition, such a reshuffle may cause other issues, considering some people would be stripped off their positions.
“However, everything depends on Najib himself. If he wants new faces to be introduced, then that is his prerogative,” he said.
While admitting that it is time for new faces to join the Cabinet, Azizuddin disagreed with Zakhir’s proposal that Wahid should replace Najib as Finance Minister.
“Wahid is not a politician; he is a corporate person and that would make a huge difference in the way he is going to perform.
“It is better to put up a politician as the Finance Minister should Najib decides to let go of the post,” he said.
Associate professor Dr Sivamurugan Pandian of Universiti Sains Malaysia agreed that the reshuffle ultimately hinges on Najib’s evaluation of his Cabinet.
“They have their own key performance index (KPI) and their own report cards. The decision to reshuffle the Cabinet depends on the need to do so or if Najib wishes to downsize his cabinet.
“If he wants to bring new faces in, he has to drop some of the older ministers. I do not think Najib can extend his Cabinet anymore,” he said, while admitting that Najib is in need of young blood to add certain value to his administration.