PETALING JAYA: As political tensions in the country continue to grow, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is speculated to appoint Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (pic) as deputy prime minister.
Sin Chew Daily, in quoting sources, reported that the move by Muhyiddin was aimed at cooling down the ongoing rift between Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and Umno.
Sin Chew also reported that Muhyiddin has allowed Senior Minister (Defence) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob - who is also a supposed candidate for the post - and Hishammuddin to speak privately to each other to decide among themselves who would take on the deputy prime minister post.
Muhyiddin is also reportedly leaning more toward Hishammuddin for the post between the two.
Sin Chew also reported that Muhyiddin has always reserved the deputy prime minister post for Umno, but the prime minister is “stuck” because the current Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi allegedly wants the post for himself.
It also reported that Zahid must first approve of Hishammuddin's appointment.
"If Muhyiddin bypasses Zahid to make the announcement, it could trigger a major split within Umno," reported Sin Chew.
Other news portals, also quoting sources, reported that Hishammuddin would be made deputy prime minister as soon as possible but noted that the proposal to appoint Hishammuddin has not been conveyed to other members of the Perikatan coalition.
Hishammuddin is the grandson of Umno’s first president Datuk Onn Jaafar and the son of the third prime minister Tun Hussein Onn.
Despite having held several leadership positions in Umno in the past, the former party vice-president did not defend his position during the party polls in 2018.
Hishammuddin has held several ministerial positions since 1998 and at present, he is the Foreign Minister.
The growing tension between Umno and Bersatu is being closely watched by Malaysians, as it could trigger a snap election in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic which saw four-digit daily infection figures in the recent weeks.
Last week, the heat was turned up after Umno’s Machang MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub announced his withdrawal of support from Perikatan, bringing down the coalition’s already razor-thin parliamentary majority.
On Sunday, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz also hinted that more Umno MPs may announce a withdrawal of support from Perikatan in the coming days.