KUALA LUMPUR – The appointment of Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein as the Minister with Special Functions at the Prime Minister’s Department is a sign that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will step down soon, said Salahuddin Ayub.
In a statement, the Amanah deputy president also predicted that Hishammuddin will take over UMNO leadership until the coming general election.
Najib today announced the appointment in a statement, adding Hishammuddin would however remain as Defence Minister.
Meanwhile, PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli said the appointment is a not a good sign for the political aspirations of Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
“This shows, either Hishammuddin wants to challenge (Ahmad) Zahid for the deputy UMNO president post or Hishammuddin himself is having trouble in keeping his vice-president post,” he said.
Another opposition leader, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang said, with the appointment, Hishammuddin is now the second most powerful figure in the country.
“Hishammuddin may not be the deputy prime minister but he obviously is the second most powerful man in UMNO/BN,” he said in a statement.
Earlier, Ahmad Zahid in his statement has expressed support for Hishammuddin over his appointment.
“I support the new portfolio assigned to assist the Prime Minister in missions and special tasks to strengthen bilateral relations (with other countries) and also specific tasks that will lead to the smooth administration of the government,” he said.
Hishammuddin in a press conference at the Defence Ministry said no one should politicise or create a fuss about his appointment as announced by the prime minister today.