PETALING JAYA – Discussions regarding a Cabinet reshuffle in Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s administration are intensifying, and insiders strongly believe that changes to the ministerial line-up are imminent, likely occurring between late September and early October.
The prevailing buzz in Putrajaya indicates that these changes will materialise before the tabling of Budget 2024 on Oct 13, with a few even claiming that Datuk Seri Anwar could make the announcement as early as this week.
A leader in the unity government hinted that the official announcement regarding the Cabinet reshuffle might be just around the corner, possibly as early as Sept 29.
“It needs to be done before the tabling of Budget 2024 so the PM can provide allocations to all ministries accordingly,” the leader said.
A quick check with the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that Mr Anwar will be in town this Friday.
“This shouldn’t come as a surprise because we are talking about Anwar Ibrahim here. Of course he will make changes one year after taking office because he is not someone who will be satisfied with mediocrity,” said a government insider.
Mr Anwar is said to be keeping things close to his chest, with two versions of the reshuffle circulating in the corridors of power and the political sphere.
The first account has it that the Cabinet will only see a minor change involving the Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry, a portfolio previously held by Salahuddin Ayub, who passed away in July due to a brain haemorrhage.
However, the stronger version indicates a major overhaul will take place in some ministries, including the Human Resources Ministry and the Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Ministry.
“Many of them are anxious about the speculation that it will be a major reshuffle because it means anyone could be affected,” said a Pakatan Harapan (PH) insider.
As of now, sources are split on the idea of who will take over the Domestic Trade and Cost of Living portfolio, with some saying that it may go to Mr Adly Zahari from PH’s ally Amanah, while others pointed to the ministry being given to leaders from other parties in PH.
Meanwhile, there is significant anticipation as to whether Mr Anwar will appoint a second finance minister, with the forerunner being Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani, a Malay leader with a wealth of experience in both business and politics.
With some critics accusing Mr Anwar of being too busy to focus on finance, sources said Mr Johari’s appointment would relieve the Prime Minister from handling the huge burden alone.
Also, Mr Johari is no stranger to the Finance Ministry, having been the second finance minister from 2016 to 2018.
“The unity government needs Malay votes. The last few elections proved the need for this. Mr Johari has what it takes with Kampung Baru safely tucked in his pocket (as Titiwangsa MP),” said a Barisan Nasional (BN) leader, referring to a Malay enclave in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.
“But there is resistance to this idea because some Umno leaders are worried Johari might outshine them,” the BN leader added.