KUALA LUMPUR ― Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has expressed support for Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein over his appointment as Minister with Special Functions in the Prime Minister’s Department, effective today.
“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 in a statement today.
Ahmad Zahid said the appointment was spot on and expressed confidence that Hishammuddin would be up to the task.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced the appointment in a statement today.
Najib said Hishammuddin also remains as Defence Minister.
MEANWHILE, according to Malaysiakini:
Even pro-Umno portal speculates on appointment, offers different take
With speculation rife on the implications of Hishammuddin Hussein’s appointment as a special functions minister on Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s political future, a pro-Umno portal has also coughed up its own take on the matter.
While some observers claim the appointment could frustrate Zahid’s ambition of becoming prime minister, MyKMU.net however suggested that Hishammuddin is being prepped for the number two post instead.
The portal’s article is a peculiar twist since MyKMU has often defended Najib’s decisions and trained its guns on those questioning it as opposed to offering a speculation itself.
Instead, the portal said the lack of explanation surrounding the sudden appointment, apart from Hishammuddin being roped in to assist his cousin, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, was bound to fuel speculation.
“So it opens (the door) to all sorts of speculations, especially regarding unity in the party (Umno) and government,” read the article titled “Perlantikan Hishammuddin sebahagian pelan peralihan kuasa atau sekadar keperluan pentadbiran? (Hishammuddin’s appointment, part of a transition of power plan or an administrative need?).”
MyKMU said although the government had appointed special functions ministers in the past such as Daim Zainuddin and Mustapha Mohamed, the situation involving Hishammuddin was different.
Those appointed before, it noted, were not elected representatives or cabinet members, and were brought in as special functions ministers to help the prime minister, especially in economic matters.
“On the contrary, Hishammuddin is already in the cabinet and a senior ministry,” it stated in reference to his defence portfolio.
According to the portal, the biggest question, in the minds of political observers is whether Hishammuddin was brought into the Prime Minister’s Department to strengthen Najib, or if the move was part of a transition of power plan.
The portal said the move could also be viewed as being part of Najib’s plan to step down after the next general election.
“Therefore, Najib brings in the Umno vice-president (Hishammuddin) as a step to facilitate the process of the team comprising Zahid and Hishammuddin being elected as prime minister and deputy prime minister respectively if BN wins the next general election.
“If the prime minister has a ‘transition of power plan’ in view of the coming general election, he wants to send a clear indication that Hishammuddin should be elevated as Zahid’s deputy,” it added.
On the same note, MyKMU said some viewed the appointment as an effort to consolidate Najib’s position.
“Perhaps the prime minister sees a political imbalance which requires Hishammuddin to be in the Prime Minister’s Department to strengthen his position,” it added.
Not dismissing the administrative angle, the portal said there is a possibility the appointment is to facilitate the relations between various security agencies under the Prime Minister’s Department and Defence Ministry.
“But until there is clear information, this appointment will remain as a big mystery and lead to political discussions for several weeks to come,” it added.