DUPLICATE: Najib calls for press conference; speculation of cabinet reshuffle

PUTRAJAYA - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has called a press conference on Wednesday and speculation is rife that it is related to a reshuffle of the cabinet.

The press conference is slated to be held at 12.30pm at the Prime Minister's Office in Putrajaya, the Malaysiakini news portal reported.

Of late, speculation had been rife that a cabinet reshuffle would be carried out, among others, to include Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) leaders and Gerakan president Mah Siew Keong into the line up, said the report.

Reports also surfaced that Deputy Prime Minister Muhiyiddin Yassin would make way for Mr Najib's cousin and current defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein.But all three dismissed this, with Mr Najib calling it "political fabrication" and Mr Hishammuddin blaming it on those who attempted to create a rift between Umno's top leaders, reported Malaysiakini.

Apart from Mr Hishammuddin, it is also speculated that two other Umno vice-presidents could also see their ministerial portfolios changed, said the report.

The two are Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Rural and Regional Development Minister Shafie Apdal.At the launch of Klia2 on Tuesday, Mr Najib dropped hints of a cabinet reshuffle, saying that the event might be the last to be attended by Mr Hishammuddin as acting transport minister."This might be your last official function as acting transport minister," he said in jest.

Malaysiakini reported that the transport minister post is traditionally held by MCA, but following the last general election, the party, then under the leadership of Dr Chua Soi Lek, decided not to take up government positions as a result of its dismal performance.However, when Mr Liow Tiong Lai took over the reins, an extraordinary general meeting had reversed the decision not to accept cabinet appointments.