Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has axed his deputy in a Cabinet reshuffle and sacked the attorney general, who heads a task force investigating allegations that Najib received some $700 million in government money.
Najib is under increasing pressure over leaked confidential documents that allegedly show that money from state investment fund 1MDB into his personal accounts.
The Prime Minister announced over national television Tuesday that his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin will be replaced by Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who will retain his portfolio home minister.
Muhyiddin had spoken out publicly on the 1MDB scandal on Sunday, calling on Najib to provide explanations.
In a statement on Facebook (in Malay), Muhyiddin said he accepted Najib’s decision “with an open heart”, adding that he fully supported the Prime Minister and the government “except on the 1MDB issue”.
“I have my own principles and stand in defense of people’s rights,” the statement said.
His replacement told a press conference Tuesday: “This is a calling that I could not avoid. Najib and I go way back. I was his political secretary when he was the Youth and Sports Minister.
“I never expected anything in return, but Allah has determined this in my fate.”
Najib also dropped four other ministers to strengthen his administration and ensure they can “work as a team”.
“The Cabinet must act as one solid team. I welcome vigorous debate, and can accept dissent and criticism. However, this process should take place in Cabinet as part of the decision-making process,” the Prime Minister said in a television announcement.
“Members of the Cabinet should not air their differences in an open forum that can affect public opinion against the government and Malaysia. It is contrary to the concept of collective responsibility that is the foundation of Cabinet government.
“It is also against the concept of collective responsibility.”
Earlier Tuesday, the government announced it had terminated the services of Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail due to health reasons. Gani reportedly said he was unaware of his sacking.
— Sumisha Naidu (@sumishanaidu) July 28, 2015
Additional reporting from Associated Press