Reshuffle will ruffle feathers in Umno, says insider

An Umno leader has warned that Tuesday’s Cabinet reshuffle, which saw the exchange of several portfolios among ministers from the party, might not go down well with grassroots members.

(FMT) – Speaking on condition of anonymity, the division leader said there was no justification for reassigning top Umno leaders to new portfolios.

The source also claimed that the shake-up only served to strengthen Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s grip on the party at the expense of other leaders.

In the reshuffle, Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan, who previously served as defence minister, was made foreign minister.

The defence portfolio was handed to Khaled Nordin, the former higher education minister. Khaled is an Umno vice-president.

Meanwhile, Umno Supreme Council member Zambry Abdul Kadir was reassigned to the higher education department portfolio.

The source said it was unlikely that Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim would have reassigned Umno leaders to new portfolios without first discussing it with Zahid, one of his closest allies in the government.

“I do not think Zahid would want anyone to outshine him, especially if that person is Umno’s number two,” he said.

He also said that the reshuffle sent a signal that the Umno ministers involved were underperforming, which was not the case.

This was why Umno leaders and their supporters would be unhappy with the reshuffle, he said.

Meanwhile, a Johor Umno leader claimed the Cabinet shake-up would prevent ministers from building on their good work in government.

“When they are moved to a new portfolio, they will have to start from scratch.”

Bersatu’s Wan Saiful Wan Jan had claimed that Mohamad’s redesignation as foreign minister would weaken him and benefit Zahid.

The Tasek Gelugor MP said the foreign portfolio, which entails overseas travel for extended periods, was not a strategic one as it would prevent Mohamad from challenging Zahid for the Umno presidency.