Dr Mahathir Mohamad today denied having planned or ordered Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali to meet 30 Barisan Nasional MPs on Monday.
“Maybe, I’m a dictator but I didn’t dictate this time,” said the prime minister.
He was asked to respond to a report by The Star, citing sources, which said parties linked to Mahathir had instructed Azmin to meet the Umno MPs.
“Mahathir was busy, his parties directed them to meet with Azmin first so that he could gauge where their support stood and whether they were sincere in wanting to support his leadership,” the report had quoted the source as saying.
Mahathir said he had not spoken to Azmin yet and did not know why there was a meeting.
Asked if the meeting was appropriate, Mahathir said it was a matter for his coalition ally PKR to address.
“This is a PKR problem and they have to investigate this matter,” he said.
Mahathir hinted the possibility of reshuffling the cabinet.
He, however, said the decision on the matter “would not be made today or tomorrow”.
“(It will be made) after we study the achievement and capability of the existing ministers, and only then we will discuss the possibility of making a cabinet reshuffle,” he said.
In making any move towards a cabinet reshuffle, Mahathir conceded that he had to face certain obstacles.
“The constraint is that although I am the prime minister, I have to give consideration to the (PH) component parties, I cannot easily change or drop anyone.
“That is why I will take some time,” he said.
Regarding the defeat of PH in Tanjung Piai, Mahathir said among other things, it could be “because our party is new, not adequately mature yet, have not organised the party really well in Tanjung Piai and the other places”.
According to him, the high cost of living, the economic situation, aid for the people and so on were among the issues raised.
“Eventually, we feel there is a need for us to have a cabinet reshuffle,” he said.
He said it could happen before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit next year but added a reshuffle would not solve all of the government’s problems.
“It may be before the Apec summit, but I don’t want too many changes to take place because we need to make the necessary preparations. This is a big meeting involving many countries, including world powers.”