Malaysian PM reshuffles cabinet, appoints new deputy

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak announced a cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday, appointing Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to replace Muhyiddin Yassin as his new deputy.

Speaking at a press conference in Putrajaya, Najib said that the reshuffle will strengthen the cabinet to face challenges in managing the country before the 14th general election.

He said that political considerations and administrative needs were taken into account when the decision was made to reshuffle the cabinet, Xinhua reported.

The decision to replace Muhyiddin was a difficult one but it was necessary to ensure the cabinet to move as a united team, he added.

“I can accept differences in opinion and criticisms as part of the decision-making process, but these differences in opinion should not be in an open forum that can affect the government negatively.”

The cabinet reshuffle, first after the general election in 2013, came at a time when Najib was under pressure over allegations of fund embezzlement.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that $700 million related to 1MDB, a debt-laden state investment company, had been transferred into Najib’s personal account.

Najib has denied taking any public fund for “personal gains”, and his legal team is mulling legal action against the Wall Street Journal.

Mahathir Mohammad, who has served the longest as the country’s prime minister and is a former mentor of Najib, has openly called for the prime minister to step down.

Some local analysts have considered Muhyiddin as a potential candidate to succeed Najib if he steps down. Muhyiddin has also called on Najib to take the lead to explain the 1MDB issue to the people.