Who Will Be Deputy PM?

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The question now swirling among political circles is whether a deputy prime minister will be appointed by the Perikatan Nasional government. And if so, who will it be?

Mohamad Shahril Badri Saali/NST

At the Umno supreme council meeting on Monday, there were apparently calls for a deputy prime minister to be appointed from Umno.

Umno supreme council member Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin had said the party hoped the request would be considered.

Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) leaders, at a “hang out” session between leaders and members in the city recently, indicated that it was considering appointing a deputy prime minister from Umno to resolve all internal bickering within the PN administration.

So, who has the complete package?

The names that are being bandied about are Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan and Senior Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri.

Sources within the PN revealed that the favourite candidate to hold the post is Hishammuddin but Mohamad, also known as Tok Mat, was a close second.

“All three of them have their strengths, but it looks like Hishammuddin is the favourite right now. Many things are being considered and at the moment, Hishammuddin is the right person for the job. Besides, he has royal backup,” a source claimed.

A source claimed Tok Mat, who is Rantau assemblyman, did not have the approval of the majority of Umno supreme council members.

A deputy prime minister’s post could ease the tension both in PN and within Umno itself, according to a party member, adding that perhaps it could also heal the split within Umno which is now divided into a few factions.

“But only if it goes to the right person,” the Umno member told the New Straits Times on condition of anonymity.

Based on conversations with the Umno grassroots, it appears that not all party members are keen on having Hishammuddin for the position.

Some want the Umno president to be appointed.

“Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi shouldn’t accept the conditions set by PN. The presidency is Umno’s dignity. Don’t throw our dignity away.

“It’s either the president becomes the deputy prime minister or no deal,” the Umno member said.

Another Umno grassroots member was of the opinion that the deputy prime minister post should go to either Tok Mat or one of Umno’s vice-presidents such as Ismail Sabri, Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid or Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin.

However, despite the insistence of some Umno members who want to see their party president holding a cabinet post, Zahid’s 47 charges involving criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering make it difficult for the Bagan Datuk member of parliament to be appointed.

Regardless of who will be selected, it looks like Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin might likely make his decision soon, possibly before the start of the parliamentary session next week. – NST