Former premier Najib Abdul Razak has acknowledged that some people are disappointed with the new cabinet unveiled by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob but believes that it can perform well.
Najib said this is because, under Ismail Sabri’s leadership, he will put his foot down if anyone still wants to “open the back door”.
Najib did not elaborate but Ismail Sabri had previously used the “door” analogy after he clashed with then international trade and industry minister Azmin Ali who had wanted to allow more businesses to operate during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ismail Sabri, who at the time was the defence minister and senior minister in charge of the Covid-19 lockdown, posted a cryptic message on social media that he had “closed the front door” and trailed off with a “but”.
Ismail Sabri later downplayed the post, but government insiders said he had clashes with Azmin over how to manage the Covid-19 pandemic.
Najib said with Ismail Sabri now in the driver’s seat, he will have the final say.
“I believe the National Security Council’s (NSC) policy on controlling Covid-19 will change because the head of the NSC has changed.
“If anyone tries to open the back door, the new NSC will have the right and power to make the final decision on policy implementation and will stop it,” he said in a statement on Facebook.
By convention, the prime minister is the head of the NSC.
Najib noted the people’s disappointment after Ismail Sabri unveiled his cabinet and expressed hope that he will drop non-performing ones after 100 days.
“I observed that many are disappointed with the cabinet announcement today.
“It appeared as if many ministers and deputy ministers are the same people and that this is a recycled cabinet.
“I only have one hope – that the cabinet will be based on outcome and achievements and the ninth prime minister will drop ministers who fail to perform after 100 days,” he said.
Najib said he understood Ismail Sabri’s decision to largely retain the old cabinet under former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s endorsement of the list.
“It is to avoid major changes during a critical period,” he added.
However, the Pekan MP noted that there was still substantial reshuffling.
Ismail Sabri today unveiled his cabinet line-up, which only saw five new ministers and four fresh deputy ministers.
The remaining 26 ministers (excluding Ismail Sabri) and 34 deputy ministers were either kept in the same portfolio or reshuffled. – Malaysiakini