Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak sacked his deputy over controversial comments regarding the government’s closure of newspapers and delays in the investigation into a state investment fund.
Najib removed Muhyiddin Yassin, considered a potential future leader of the ruling United Malays National Organization, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Four other ministers and a deputy minister were fired.
Najib appointed Ahmad Zahid Hamid deputy prime minister.
A statement from Najib’s office said the changes would ensure “strength and unity’’ amid “the challenges we currently face”.
Muhyiddin’s removal follows recent comments over the handling of debt-laden 1MDB.
Although he stopped short of direct criticism, Muhyiddin publicly broke ranks with the government at a party meeting Sunday, raising questions over the suspension of The Edge newspaper for its reporting and asking Najib to step down from 1MDB.
“Members of the cabinet should not air their differences in an open forum that can affect public opinion against the government and Malaysia,” Najib said.
The decision to replace Muhyiddin was very difficult, he said, but “I must have a solid and unified team moving in the same direction”.
“I have principles and my own stand in defending the rights of the people, the party’s good name and national interest,” Muhyiddin said in a Facebook post after his removal.
“If my stand in this issue caused me to be dropped from the cabinet, I accept it.”
– Contact us at [email protected]