Cabinet reshuffle soon?

Sources say the appointment of a new health minister is likely.

(FMT) – A Cabinet shake-up is on the cards and will likely involve the appointment of a new health minister, according to two sources in the know.

A high-level PKR source who spoke on condition of anonymity said the reasons for Dr Zaliha Mustafa’s supposed removal from the portfolio were unclear.

“But it is understood that she and the prime minister (Anwar Ibrahim) had disagreements over the running of the ministry, among others,” the source told FMT.

In the event that Zaliha is dropped, the source said the favourite to replace her would be education minister Fadhlina Sidek, while natural resources, environment and climate change minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad would take over the education portfolio.

“The education portfolio belongs to PKR, and within the current structure, Nik Nazmi appears to be the most suitable person for the role.”

As for the post of domestic trade and cost of living minister, which has been vacant since the death of Salahuddin Ayub in July, the source said Shah Alam MP Azli Yusof of Amanah might be appointed to inject “fresh blood” into the Cabinet.

“The appointment of a second finance minister is unlikely as Anwar, who is also finance minister, already has two deputies.”

The source added that the reshuffle would see several deputy ministers swapping portfolios.

Meanwhile, a government source said the appointment of a second finance minister could not be ruled out, although any candidate would be appointed “from the outside”.

“It will likely be a technocrat rather than an MP.”

The source, who declined to be named, also said Zaliha was likely to be the biggest name to be dropped from the Cabinet.

“The reshuffle is slated to take place next week, after the Kemaman by-election (on Saturday).”

Speculation of a Cabinet reshuffle has been rife, and gained currency after Anwar himself said in October that he was considering it.