KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is to reshuffle his Cabinet this week, dropping five ministers including his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin, it was reported on Tuesday.
Najib is said to have met the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to present his new cabinet line-up and details of the reshuffle could be out as soon as Tuesday afternoon, Malaysiakini news portal reported, quoting the Malay-language Utusan Online, an Umno party mouthpiece.
The Malaysian Insider, citing government sources, reported that Najib will drop five out of the 35-strong slate of ministers, including his deputy Muhyiddin, who has been critical of the prime minister's handling of state investor 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
Umno's popular vice-president and Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is expected to be the new deputy prime minister and will keep his home minister portfolio, sources said.
The news portal said two other Umno ministers - vice-president and Rural and Regional Development Minister Mohd Shafie Apdal, and Domestic Trade, Cooperative and Consumerism Minister Hasan Malek, will also be dropped in the mid-term review of Najib's cabinet.
The remaining two people expected to be out are Natural Resources and Environment Minister G. Palanivel, who has been stripped of his Malaysian Indian Congress presidency and membership, and Senator Idris Jala, the government efficiency unit Pemandu chief executive.
Muhyiddin was widely expected to be dropped after he renewed his criticism of 1MDB at the Cheras Umno division annual meeting on Sunday. He said Umno is suffering from a perception crisis from the 1MDB controversy and would lose a general election if one is held now.
"I speak the truth. If the Parliament is dissolved tomorrow we won't win the general election. There has been research that says we will find it hard to to win the next general election,'' he said.
Malaysian Insider also reported that Muhyiddin revealed that he had asked Najib to step down as chairman of the board of advisers of the 1MDB but the latter ignored his advice. Muhyiddin said he had no ill intentions by suggesting this, but had not wanted Najib’s name to be tarnished because of his involvement with the debt-ridden state investment fund.
The Wall Street Journal reported on July 3 that US$700 million (S$956 million) had been transferred from 1MDB to Mr Najib’s personal accounts. The prime minister had denied using state funds for his own personal use.