With Umno vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob confirmed as Malaysia’s new prime minister, analyst James Chin predicts that any deals struck to secure support for Ismail’s position will be revealed through the new cabinet line-up.
In a statement today, Istana Negara said Ismail will be sworn in at 2.30pm tomorrow, after which the process to select a new cabinet will begin.
It has so far remained unclear whether Ismail, who was deputy prime minister in the previous Perikatan Nasional administration, would retain the original line-up or introduce some changes.
This includes two vacant ministers’ posts – Higher Education Ministry and Environment and Natural Resources – previously held by Wanita Umno chief Noraini Ahmad and Lenggong MP Shamsul Anuar Nasarah – who withdrew their support for former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
All eyes are also on the deputy prime minister’s seat, with speculation high that it would be held by a former minister who is also a senior Bersatu leader.
In an initial response to Ismail’s appointment, Chin also predicted that there could be defections from Bersatu back to Umno in the coming months.
As a result, he noted that Bersatu, led by Muhyiddin, could be at risk defending its seats won against Umno in the 14th general election held in 2018.
While Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim had once again failed to prove he had the numbers against Ismail, Chin predicted that it would not be the end of the PKR president’s career.
Separately, Reuters quoted Singapore’s Institute of International Affairs senior fellow Oh Ei Sun as saying that Ismail may face an unstable coalition in view of his slim majority and divisions within Umno.
“There are still many who don’t like him (in Umno) because they think that he betrayed the party and that by betraying the party, he clinched the top job,” Oh reportedly said.
The weeks leading up to former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s resignation saw a clear divide within Umno, with Ismail leading a larger group of MPs, including those from BN component parties who chose to remain with the PN administration until its last day.
Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and 10 other MPs were among those who called for Muhyiddin’s resignation. – Malaysiakini