Umno ministers and deputy ministers to remain in PN govt, says Malaysian PM Muhyiddin

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said this was the agreement achieved after a meeting between him and the ministers.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said this was the agreement achieved after a meeting between him and the ministers.PHOTO: REUTERS

PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian Cabinet ministers and deputy ministers from Umno have agreed to remain and not relinquish their posts, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Wednesday (March 31).

He said this was the agreement achieved after a meeting between him and the ministers on Monday.

The move followed Umno's decision at its annual assembly last weekend to sever ties with Tan Sri Muhyiddin's Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and to contest the upcoming general election without the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition headed by Bersatu.

Umno said any cooperation with Bersatu and PN will be dumped as soon as the polls are called.

Umno has also given its president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and its decision-making supreme council the mandate to withdraw support for the PN government "at any time it deems fit".

There are nine Umno Members of Parliament who are full Cabinet ministers, and another eight who are deputy ministers.

PM Muhyiddin said in a statement: "The Umno ministers sought my advice on their position in the Cabinet, following the decision of the Umno general assembly that the party would sever ties with Bersatu in the 15th general election.

"I have advised them to stay in the Cabinet. This is for the interest of the people and the country... an agreement has been reached in which all Umno ministers will continue to remain in the Cabinet."

Mr Muhyiddin said the government's current focus is to battle the Covid-19 pandemic through the national immunisation programme and also to restore the economy.

"Several Umno ministers hold important portfolios related to this.

"Therefore, I do not want their resignations from the Cabinet to jeopardise the government's plan on the pandemic and economic recovery, " he said.

Several Umno leaders, including veteran MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, have called on those holding minister and deputy minister posts to resign immediately, following the resolutions that were passed at the annual assembly.

In response, many Umno ministers said that they would do so only if instructed by the party's supreme council.

The nine Umno ministers include one of the party's three vice-presidents, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob (security cluster); chief of Umno Women's wing Noraini Ahmad (Higher Education Minister); former Barisan Nasional secretary-general Annuar Musa (Federal Territories Minister); and former party vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein (Foreign Minister).

There are also three Umno supreme council members in the Cabinet - Shamsul Anuar Nasarah (Energy and Natural Resources Minister); Reezal Merican Naina Merican (Youth and Sports Minister) and Zahidi Zainul Abidin (Deputy Minister for Communications and Multimedia).

Meanwhile, the third Malay Muslim-based faction, Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), has been caught in the middle of the Umno-Bersatu fight.

PAS has an agreement to work with Umno under the Muafakat Nasional flag, but is also a member of Mr Muhyiddin's PN coalition.

On Wednesday, PAS and Bersatu issued a statement saying they will strengthen their cooperation, after a meeting between Mr Muhyiddin and PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang.

"Bersatu and PAS will continue to strengthen cooperation in PN to face the 15th general election (GE15)," a joint statement by the two parties said.

"Bersatu and PAS, which are among the main founders of PN, will also set up a consultative committee at the central level to develop strategies and direction for the GE15, including on seat negotiations," said the statement that was signed by the two secretaries-general of the parties.