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Malaysia's commodities minister to discuss resignation with PM

05/26/2022 | 05:44am EDT
FILE PHOTO: Malaysia's Commodities and Plantations Minister Kamaruddin speaks during an interview in Kuala Lumpur

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia's commodities minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said on Thursday she would meet the country's prime minister to discuss possibly stepping down from her post, in a sign of political maneuvering amid calls for an early election.

Zuraida also announced she had switched parties as the country's main political coalitions gear up to fight what is expected to be a hotly-contested general election as early as August.

Adib Zalkapli, Malaysia director at political risk consultancy BowerGroupAsia, said Zuraida's possible resignation as minister and exit from the Bersatu party was likely to give Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob's ruling party UMNO a boost ahead of the polls.

Bersatu and UMNO work together in the federal government, but ties have been strained in the past two years, with both parties expected to lead separate coalitions in the general election.

Polls are not due till next year but calls have been growing for an early election, particularly within UMNO, following a string of recent local election victories and the impending expiration on July 31 of a "stability pact" with the opposition.

Zuraida said she planned to meet Ismail Sabri "soonest" to discuss her resignation as Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister - a key cabinet portfolio in the world's second-largest palm oil producer.

Industry players said a change in leadership at the commodities ministry could hurt the country's reputation as a more stable supplier amid erratic policymaking by bigger rival Indonesia in recent months.

"It has become hard for us to take future positions... inconsistent government policies are creating hurdles in sustainable order flows," said Anas Haroon, senior trader at Cargill in Pakistan.

Sathia Varqa, co-founder of Singapore-based Palm Oil Analytics, said domestic policies on sustainability and biodiesel mandates could "suffer significantly".

The prime minister's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff and Mei Mei Chu; Editing by Ed Davies and Kanupriya Kapoor)

© Reuters 2022
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