By Chew Lip Song
MOVES are underway within Umno to oust its own Ministers Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein and Khairy Jamaluddin as embattled party president Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi seeks to strengthen his grip in the party ahead of a possible Cabinet reshuffle soon.
The removal of Hisham, who is Foreign Minister and Khairy who is Science and Technology and Innovation Minister from Cabinet are among the key demands implicitly set by Umno in the political horse-trading taking place within Perikatan Nasional (PN) now, sources said.
Umno, whose political bureau earlier this week threatened to pull the party out of PN, has set several “conditions” for PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin following Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s audience with the King on Tuesday.
Among others, Umno had wanted Muhyiddin’s Cabinet line-up to include “leaders from the grassroots”.
Hishamuddin and Khairy are not members of the Umno supreme council and their appointments into the Cabinet had bypassed other leaders who were elected into the powerful body.
Hishamuddin, a former Umno vice-president, did not contest in the 2018 party polls, while Khairy lost his presidential bid to Zahid in the same election.
“Both Hisham and Khairy are not aligned with the party president. Obviously, the party president would prefer his own men to sit in the Cabinet and these people must be from the Umno supreme council,” an insider told The New Sarawak.
Other demands set by Umno include the Deputy Prime Minister’s post and party appointments into more senior Cabinet portfolios, the source added.
It is understood that the party is split over the DPM’s position – whether it should go to Zahid, himself a former DPM, or to someone else in the party.
Zahid is currently facing a slew of corruption charges and Muhyiddin is under pressure to keep his Cabinet free from tainted leaders.
Umno’s “conditions” came following Anwar’s declaration of having secured a “strong, convincing and formidable” support from federal lawmakers to oust Muhyiddin, who is hanging on to a two-seat majority in the Dewan Rakyat.
Anwar however, has yet to make public the list of MPs backing him, although there is widespread speculations that ex-PM Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak and Zahid are among them.