Straits Herald August 22, 2019

Malaysian daily, The Star, has reported that the first reshuffle of the Pakatan Harapan Cabinet is due anytime and a few ministers will be changing their portfolios.

Citing sources, The Star reported that the Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced this during the Cabinet meeting yesterday.

“The announcement of a reshuffle was minuted in the Cabinet meeting and the Cabinet was informed that there will be changes,” a source told The Star.

“He (Dr Mahathir) also stated that he would be meeting the party chiefs in the evening.”

The source added that this was the first time the Prime Minister had openly said in a Cabinet meeting that he would be shuffling portfolios of existing ministers and that the reshuffle was imminent.

Former Malaysia’s Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed walks to a meeting room during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministers Responsible For Trade (APEC MRT 23) meeting in Hanoi on May 21, 2017. Reports have surfaced that he might return back to the cabinet. (Photo by KHAM / POOL / AFP)

Another possibility is the return of Najib-era Minister of International Trade and Industries, Mustapa Mohamed.

Mustapa is a long time ally of the business community and trade circles in Asia. He has been instrumental in the enactment of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), a trade pact binding tens of pacific-laced countries in a strong economic pact, before it was unceremonously scrapped by US President Donald Trump early in the latter’s administration.

Mustapa has left Najib’s coalition, Barisan Nasional after the 14th General Elections and has since joined Mahathir’s Bersatu party a few months ago.

Even then, speculation of Mustapa rejoining the cabinet was already warm. At this point in time, the feeling is more ‘red hot’ of his rejoining, according to sources.

Another source, however, said Dr Mahathir had merely said that he would be “reorganising portfolios”.

The Star however reported that some sources however believe this ‘imminent’ cabinet reshuffle is nothing more than just minor tweaks.

The source believed that there would not be any changes in the line-up of ministers.

“Same ministers and ministries, but the portfolios of the ministries will be reorganised. I think that’s what the PM meant,” said the second source who was present at the Cabinet meeting.

Yesterday evening, Dr Mahathir also met up with the top leaders of three Pakatan Harapan parties and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

“He wanted to meet the four people who headed the parties when Pakatan formed the Federal Government in 2018.

“This was why Dr Wan Azizah, who was then the PKR president, joined the meeting. It was merely a meeting for the Prime Minister to urge us to be more efficient amid the many things that the government is handling,” said another source.

There has long been talk of a Cabinet reshuffle, with some ministers getting flak for not performing up to the expectations of the public.

Dr Mahathir, however, has repeatedly said there would be no such thing.

On May 5, at a function to commemorate the first anniversary of Pakatan’s GE14 victory, Dr Mahathir gave his Cabinet a score of “five out of 10” but insisted that the ministers are “learning fast”.

The last time Dr Mahathir had denied that there would be a Cabinet reshuffle was on July 19 following a viral photograph of the full Cabinet taken before a meeting in Putrajaya.