PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - As political tensions in the country continue to grow, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is speculated to appoint Umno's Hishammuddin Hussein as deputy prime minister.
Sin Chew Daily, in quoting sources, reported that the move by Tan Sri Muhyiddin was aimed at cooling down the ongoing rift between his Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) and ally Umno.
Sin Chew also reported that Mr Muhyiddin had allowed Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob - who is also a supposed candidate for the post - and Datuk Seri Hishammuddin to speak privately to each other to decide who would take on the deputy prime minister post.
The Chinese daily added that Mr Muhyiddin has always reserved the deputy prime minister post for Umno, but the Prime Minister is "stuck" because Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi allegedly wants the post for himself.
Ahmad Zahid currently does not hold any ministerial position. He was a deputy prime minister under former prime minister Najib Razak.
Other news portals, also quoting sources, reported that Mr Hishammuddin would be made deputy prime minister as soon as possible but noted that the proposal to appoint him has not been conveyed to other members of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition.
However, Bersatu and Umno sources dismissed the speculation as an unsubstantiated rumour.
"The rumour that Hisham will be made DPM is not true," a Bersatu politician said in a WhatsApp message to The Star.
Mr Hishammuddin is the grandson of Umno's first president Onn Jaafar and the son of the third prime minister Hussein Onn.
Despite having held several leadership positions in Umno in the past, the former party vice-president did not defend his position during the party polls in 2018.
Mr Hishammuddin has held several ministerial positions since 1998 and at present, he is the Foreign Minister.
The growing tension between Umno and Bersatu is being closely watched by Malaysians, as it could trigger a snap election in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic which saw four-digit daily infection figures in the recent weeks.
Last week, the heat was turned up after Umno's Machang MP Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub announced his withdrawal of support from Perikatan, bringing down the coalition's already razor-thin parliamentary majority.
On Sunday, senior Umno leader Nazri Aziz hinted that more MPs from his party may announce a withdrawal of support from PN in the coming days.