Foreign Affairs Minister Hishammudin Hussein has been tipped to fill in the deputy prime minister position, days after a large cabinet meeting led to at least two ministers contracting COVID-19, which has been spiraling out of control and sparking fears of another nationwide lockdown.
Hishamuddin himself attended the Wednesday meeting, along with Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, both of whom are expected to undergo coronavirus tests. The latter is also scheduled to give a coronavirus update later in the afternoon, which many fear could introduce another round of COVID-19 restrictions. The prime minister’s broadcast usually goes live at 4pm.
There is currently no deputy prime minister under Muhyiddin’s administration. Other than Hishammudin, UMNO president Zahid Hamidi and Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob were among the candidates for the job, Sinar Harian cited an unnamed UMNO spokesperson.
“Hishammuddin’s close ties with Saudi and China are one of his advantages,” the same source told Chinese newspaper Sin Chew Daily.
Muhyiddin was expected to elect someone from UMNO to solidify the party’s relationship with the National Alliance administration. The party previously threatened to walk out in October, citing new terms and conditions for political cooperation.
Malaysia has reported more than 134,000 infections with 2,433 new COVID-19 cases yesterday. A total of 542 people have died from the virus so far in Malaysia.
Ahead of Muhyiddin’s national address, rumors of a second nationwide lockdown whirled on Twitter, putting “MCO 2.0” on the most trending topic of the afternoon.
“Im okay with MCO 2.0 as long as they cut 100% of ministers’ wage. They all ain’t doing nothing. Only a few of the ministers that outstanding to help the people,” user @Elyxionplanet said.
Earlier today, the country also confirmed that it was buying an additional 12.2 million doses of the Pfizer-Biontech COVID-19 vaccine, bringing the total amount of vaccine doses ordered to 25 million.
Other stories to check out: