KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 22 — Former Umno man Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed is speculated to be appointed as minister again amid reports that a Cabinet reshuffle is on the cards.
News reports have cited sources saying that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had yesterday informed ministers in Cabinet’s weekly meeting that there would be a reshuffling of portfolios and that the changes could be announced as soon as after a week.
Local Chinese newspapers Sin Chew Daily and Oriental Daily both speculated last night that Mustapa would almost certainly be appointed to rejoin Cabinet if a Cabinet reshuffle takes place.
Mustapa, who was formerly Umno supreme council member and also Kelantan Barisan Nasional chairman, had last September 18 quit Umno after 40 years as he believed the party was no longer relevant in multiracial Malaysia after BN’s May 2018 defeat.
On October 26, Mustapa announced that he was joining ruling party Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), with party chairman Dr Mahathir then personally handing him a mock membership card.
Mustapa is a seasoned politician with years of experience in previous Cabinets including as Finance Minister II during Dr Mahathir’s first stint as prime minister, and was minister of International Trade and Industry from April 2009 until May 2018.
The two papers also said last night that Dr Mahathir would be meeting with leaders from the ruling coalition Pakatan Harapan’s component parties to discuss the reshuffling of Cabinet.
Pakatan Harapan is composed of PPBM, PKR, DAP and Parti Amanah Negara.
Another newspaper The Star quoted a source as saying that Dr Mahathir had only said there would be a “reorganising” of the ministers’ portfolios.
The PM has repeatedly dismissed speculation that there would be changes to the Pakatan Harapan (PH) Cabinet line-up amid criticism that many of them were largely inexperienced in governing, saying last November that it was too early to assess their performance under a year.
On July 20, Dr Mahathir also clarified that a photo taken of the full Cabinet the day before did not indicate plans for a Cabinet reshuffling, but was due to it being one of the few times when all ministers were present.