PETALING JAYA: The decision by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to allow Datuk Seri Azmin Ali to chair Cabinet meetings whenever he is absent may be a sign that he is the most trusted one among the four appointed senior ministers, according to analysts.
This could be an indication that Azmin was the leader with the most potential to succeed Muhyiddin as premier, said Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi of Universiti Malaya.
“If it’s politically interpreted, Muhyiddin is trying to send a signal to everyone that Azmin is the most trusted leader among the senior ministers.
“He is also seen to have the potential to be the next prime minister, ” he said.
Azmin is the International Trade and Industry Minister. The other senior ministers are Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (Defence), Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof (Works) and Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin (Education).
In a press conference yesterday, Muhyiddin said Azmin would chair Cabinet meetings in his absence.
However, Awang Azman acknowledged that the political situation was fluid, which meant that anything could happen in the future.
He also said that Muhyiddin’s decision had raised an alarm in Umno that it must secure the prime minister’s position if Perikatan Nasional wins in the 15th General Election, as Umno has the most seats in Perikatan.
Awang Azman believed that it was a matter of time before Muhyiddin would reconcile with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, as he pointed out the Langkawi MP had recently opened fire at Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s ambitions of being the next premier.
Dr Oh Ei Sun, adjunct senior fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, believed that Muhyiddin’s intentions was to prevent a repeat of incidents of deputy prime ministers becoming emboldened in wanting to unseat the No. 1.
As an example, Oh pointed out that even Muhyiddin, during in his tenure as deputy prime minister under the Barisan Nasional administration, had rebelled against former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Universiti Utara Malaysia’s School of International Studies Prof Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani said a reconciliation was possible between Dr Mahathir and Muhyiddin as “politics is the art of the possible”.
“It is possible as long as they can compromise on something, ” he said.
(Muhyiddin had spoken about having written a letter seeking reconciliation with Dr Mahathir.)
Other political analysts played down Muhyiddin’s decision to allow Azmin to chair Cabinet meetings in his absence.
Prof Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin, who heads the Institute of Ethnic Studies at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, said there could be a simple reason why Muhyiddin made such a decision.
“Can’t read too much into every twist and turn, ” he said.
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