Najib drops deputy in Cabinet reshuffle
MALAYSIAN Prime Minister Najib Razak yesterday sacked his deputy, Muyhiddin Yassin, and attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail in a Cabinet reshuffle widely seen as an attempt to strengthen his hold on power as he battles corruption allegations.
Mr Najib also dropped three others from the new line-up, with the number of ministers increased to 37, The Malaysian Insider news website reported.
In total, seven new ministers and nine deputy ministers were appointed in a reshuffle that Mr Najib said was aimed at creating a more "unified team" ahead of the next election, due by 2018, reported Agence France-Presse.
A source told The Malaysian Insider that consultations among senior members of the ruling United Malays National Organisation (Umno) party on the reshuffle started earlier this week.
In a televised address yesterday, Mr Najib said it was a tough decision for him to drop Mr Muhyiddin, who has been criticising the way he handles the scandal surrounding debt-ridden state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
"I can accept difference of opinion, but as a Cabinet member, one cannot do it in a public forum as it can create public misconception," The Star reported Mr Najib as saying.
"This also affects the concept of collective responsibility," he added.
The Malaysian Insider said the dismissal of Mr Muhyiddin, 68, had been widely expected following his renewed, though implicit, criticism of Mr Najib at an Umno division meeting on Sunday.
Besides pushing at the meeting for the 1MDB investigation report to be transparent, Mr Muhyiddin repeated that Mr Najib should respond personally to the reports by The Wall Street Journal that money had been siphoned into the PM's accounts.
Mr Muhyiddin was replaced by Umno vice-president and Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, a Najib loyalist.
Mr Muhyiddin, who had been DPM since 2009, said yesterday that he accepted wholeheartedly Mr Najib's decision to drop him.
But he said he would stand by his principles on the 1MDB issue.
Meanwhile, Mr Abdul Gani said he was baffled when he heard that his appointment had been discontinued due to health reasons, the Malay Mail reported.
He had been heading the multi-agency task force investigating 1MDB.
"The removal of the AG and DPM will be seen as acts of desperation by Mr Najib," said Terence Gomez, a political analyst with the University of Malaya.
"I suspect that the 1MDB task force has sufficient evidence to file charges against key actors in this company, which may include the PM." AGENCIES