Former prime minister Najib Razak has congratulated Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Hishammuddin Hussein on their new appointments, but raised the spectre that there could be another twist later tonight.
In a Facebook post, Najib said he had thought some good news pertaining to Covid-19, the loan moratorium or i-Citra initiative would be announced today.
“Instead, we got an announcement of a new deputy prime minister and senior minister. Like all ministers, these new appointments are the prerogative of the prime minister.
“In any case, let’s wait and see what the Umno supreme council decides tonight.”
The Umno supreme council, which will meet virtually at 8.30pm, is expected to decide on a plan for the party to withdraw its support for the Perikatan Nasional-led government.
Such a decision could be detrimental to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s razor-thin majority in Parliament, although some, like Padang Rengas MP Nazri Aziz, have said that they would continue to back the government.
Earlier today the Prime Minister’s Office announced that Ismail had been appointed deputy prime minister while foreign minister Hishammuddin is now the new senior minister for security, taking over from Ismail. Their appointments are effective immediately.
Even before the announcement was made, Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki had issued a reminder that the party had previously decided against accepting the deputy prime minister’s post.
“People in distress need help, not a deputy prime minister’s post.”
Meanwhile, Nazri described Ismail and Hishammuddin’s appointments as a sign of Muhyiddin’s sincerity in the way he treats his ally, Umno.
He told FMT the issue of Umno’s plans to withdraw its support for the government was now irrelevant.
He claimed this was because most Umno MPs had agreed to back Muhyiddin until the next general election (GE15) as resolved in the party’s annual general assembly last March.
This claim has been refuted by Umno supreme council member Puad Zarkashi who said that aside from the party resolving not to work with Bersatu in GE15, it had also agreed to withdraw support for the government “as late as Aug 1”.
Nazri said that as a loyal Umno member, he was delighted with the news of the two appointments.
“I hope for the remaining two years (before GE15), Umno can sit with Perikatan Nasional and PAS to plan for the polls.”
He said Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s plan to form a new political alignment will not succeed, as most MPs wanted to help the current government stabilise the political situation in the country and fight Covid-19.