DAP rep says PM should take over Zuraida’s post for the time being, while Hamzah claims PM already promised replacement must come from Bersatu.
- Steven Sim says PM should take over Zuraida’s post without pay for the time being
- Hamzah insists only an MP from Bersatu can replace Zuraida’s post
- Umno wants the portfolio
- Zuraida remains a minister until PM decides to accept her resignation
- PM expected to announce Cabinet reshuffle soon
- Hamzah expected to be promoted as DPM
Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob should take over the plantation industries and commodities minister’s post vacated by Zuraida Kamaruddin, instead of appointing something new to the position, DAP national organising secretary Steven Sim said.
This, Sim said, will prevent parties in the ruling pact from competing against each other for the position following Zuraida’s unexpected resignation on Thursday and also save taxpayers’ money.
“I would like to call on Prime Minister Ismail Sabri not to appoint a new minister to replace the Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Zuraida Kamaruddin who has become a political frog once again by jumping the party from Bersatu to PBM.
“I would like to suggest that the PM not appoint a new minister, instead hold the post of Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities himself without pay until the end of the 14th Parliamentary term,” said the Bukit Mertajam MP.
Sim said if the prime minister can take Zuraida’s responsibilities, he would reduce the huge number of Cabinet members currently in government, pointing out that there are 31 ministers and 37 deputy ministers in the current administration.
“This giant Cabinet is seen as a waste, especially when the government has failed to address the various problems faced by the people since the Covid-19 pandemic until now.
“Currently, the management of the chicken subsidy has failed, resulting in the chicken industry not being subsidised and resulting in the price of chicken continuing to be expensive and the supply of chicken reduced by up to 50 per cent in the market,” he said.
He said that should the PM also take on the responsibility without extra pay, it would certainly save the public’s money, as well as send a signal that the government needs to spend more prudently, especially when people are facing a rise in prices for goods in the country.
“If a new minister is appointed, the financial implications will be not only the minister’s salary and allowance, but also pensions, as well as benefits such as vacations, employment of new employees and so on.
“This does not include further council expenditures, celebrations and specific programmes that will be directed by the minister at the ministry level,” he said.
He said that the prime minister can bring stability to MPIC, which has seen three different ministers leading the ministry over the past three years as there would be no need to implement major changes in terms of policy or organisational structure.
Sim added that in the era of post-pandemic economic recovery, Ismail Sabri can also provide more effective leadership to MPIC after the failures of previous ministers from PAS and Bersatu in helping the sector cope with the economic challenges brought on by the pandemic.
“Issues such as lack of workers, rising cost of input materials, logistics costs and so on have not been addressed by the previous ministers from PAS and Bersatu to date,” he said.
The power struggle between both Perikatan Nasional and Barisan Nasional within the government can also be soothed should the PM absorb the post into his portfolio as then there would not be a tussle for the post of MPIC minister.
Finally, Sim said that it would not make sense to elect a new minister of MPIC, as there is only one year left on this Parliamentary term, and electing someone to the post would be akin to giving the said person a honeymoon job.
Meanwhile, Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin has insisted that only an MP from Bersatu can replace the Cabinet post should Zuraida vacate the post.
The Bersatu secretary-general was quoted saying that this arrangement was reached between party president Tan Sri Muhyiddin and Umno’s Ismail Sabri before the latter was appointed prime minister.
“In the event someone from Bersatu who is in the Cabinet decides to leave, the replacement must come from the same party,” Hamzah was quoted by The Star.
Hamzah’s assertion came after several Umno leaders pointed out publicly that the prerogative to decide on Zuraida’s position is solely the prime minister’s.
Earlier, Ismail Sabri said he has yet to make any decision on Zuraida and would wait until he meets her.
“She can still attend the next Cabinet meeting, She has not resigned yet and I have not sacked her either.
“The final decision is mine to make. Since it’s still too early to decide, because I have yet to meet her, I won’t comment any further.
“Wait for me to return (to Malaysia), call her up for a meeting, and discuss the matter with her. Then I will decide,” he said during a press conference in Tokyo, Japan.
Ismail also said he took note of the views of various people on Zuraida’s exit from Bersatu as well as her readiness to resign from the Cabinet.
Since her announcement, Umno had asked the prime minister not to keep her in the Cabinet and instead give the portfolio to the party.
Ismail Sabri also alluded he may not agree to Zuraida’s decision to resign as minister.
“Even when I meet her, I am not sure what decision that I will make. She remains a minister until I decide to accept her resignation, and if I want to replace her with another person,” he said.
Malay Mail previously reported that Ismail Sabri is expected to announce a Cabinet reshuffle soon in a move that is believed will ensure his government can last until the end of the Parliamentary term.
Several sources from government lynchpin parties Umno and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia told Malay Mail that this move was prompted by Zuraida’s recent defection, with Hamzah himself expected to be promoted as deputy prime minister in return.