Analyst: Appointment of DPM will strengthen PN gov’t

Analyst: Appointment of DPM will strengthen PN gov’t

KUALA LUMPUR: Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s decision to appoint a deputy prime minister now after helming a government for 15 months is seen as wanting to strengthen the administration and ensure the success of the National Recovery Plan (PPN).

The post was filled today after the prime minister appointed Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob as his deputy, while also retaining him as Defence Minister. The announcement was made via a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.

The announcement came as a bit of a surprise to many, but the appointment of a deputy prime minister remains the prerogative of the prime minister while dropping and appointing Cabinet ministers is a common process in democratic political practice.

Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Faculty of Human Ecology lecturer Associate Professor Dr Mohd Izani Mohd Zain views the appointment of Ismail Sabri as a move that would be able to assist the prime minister streamline government administration at a time when the country is faced with the Covid-19 pandemic.

The appointment of the Bera MP, who is also Umno vice-president, to the second-highest post in the government will enable the ‘strained’ relationship between Umno and Bersatu to reconnect and strengthen the Perikatan Nasional’s government’s will to implement PPN in the face of the Covid-19 outbreak.

“It is hoped Ismail Sabri can be the bridge for harmony between Umno and Bersatu. The fact that Umno, despite not being a component party in Perikatan Nasional (PN), was handed the second-highest position is something unexpected,” he said when contacted by Bernama.

The post was last held by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) advisory board chairman Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the first woman in Malaysian history to do so.

Dr Wan Azizah’s appointment was following Pakatan Harapan’s success in forming the federal government after overthrowing Barisan Nasional in the 14th General Election in 2018.

Muhyiddin, who was sworn in as the eighth prime minister on March 1 last year, did not name an individual for the post of deputy prime minister then, another first in Malaysian political history.

The prime minister instead announced the appointment of four senior ministers, namely the Minister of International Trade and Industry; Defence Minister; Works Minister and Education Minister.

Although the post of deputy prime minister exists by convention and not enshrined by law and the Federal Constitution, Mohd Izani still considers it important and powerful.

The political analyst said the post was very important in assisting the prime minister to manage the country’s affairs.

“I see the post being given to Umno as well deserved as the party has the largest number of representatives in the Cabinet.

“However, the focus now shifts to Umno’s stand on Ismail Sabri’s appointment,” he said. -Bernama