Umno keeps up drumbeat of unhappiness over Malaysian PM Muhyiddin's Cabinet picks

Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan (second from right) at the opening of the party’s Women, Youth and Puteri (Young Women) wings on Dec 4, 2019. PHOTO: THE STAR PUBLICATION

KUALA LUMPUR - Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan and vice-president Mohamed Khaled Nordin have complained that the party did not get senior Cabinet posts in the Muhyiddin Yassin administration, keeping up the drumbeat of unhappiness voiced by other Umno leaders.

Their comments could cause friction in Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's government, which is dominated by leaders from his faction, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin unveiled his Cabinet line-up on Monday (March 9) as Malaysia faces the spread of the coronavirus and the slowest economic growth since 2009.

Two days ago, on Thursday (March 12), Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi issued a statement after a top leadership meeting to demand that the new government go after the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration over several issues close to the heart of its Malay Muslim base.

These included probing why assets of pilgrimage fund Tabung Haji were sold off and punishing the alleged killers of a Malay fireman who died during a Hindu temple riot.

Datuk Seri Mohamad asked in a Facebook post on Friday why Umno MPs were given "non-critical" ministerial positions.

"This isn't fair, with the number of MPs contributed by Umno and the level of experience they possess," he said.

Johor MP Azalina Othman Said on Thursday tweeted that Mr Muhyiddin's Bersatu has only 28 per cent of total MPs in Perikatan Nasional (PN) government, compared with Umno's 35 per cent, yet Bersatu has two senior minister's post against Umno's one.

The PN coalition comprises Bersatu, which includes 10 former lawmakers from Parti Keadilan Rakyat; Umno-led Barisan Nasional; Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS).

Said Mr Mohamad: "It is not the most important thing for Umno to hold the government position in the current political climate, but it is important for Muhyiddin to recognise party proportions."

He said the Cabinet practises collective responsibility, which will be effective only if every party is represented proportionately.

"This is very critical because by having a united Cabinet, the government can move together with its supporters.

One of the three Umno vice-presidents. Datuk Seri Khaled, meanwhile, said Umno is not "subordinate" to either PM Muhyiddin or Bersatu.

Mr Khaled said in a statement on Saturday that without Umno's and PAS support Mr Muhyiddin could not have formed a government after the political chaos caused by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad 's unexpected resignation as prime minister on Feb 24.

"Umno is only doing its moral duty as a political party by demanding strategic representation in return for its contributions and taking into account its ability and experience in preserving the interests of the Malay community," Mr Khaled said.

PM Muhyiddin has done away with a deputy prime minister, but offered four MPs the post of senior ministers - two from his party Bersatu, one from Umno and one from GPS.

The Cabinet has 31 ministers, excluding Mr Muhyiddin, 11 of whom are from Bersatu, nine from Umno, and one each from Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC).

Umno, MCA and MIC are members of the BN coalition.

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