Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ahmad to start work as MB tomorrow

Ahmad to start work as MB tomorrow
Mar 24, 08 4:46pm

Kijal state representative Ahmad Said, who has been appointed

by the Terengganu sultan as mentri besar against the wish
of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will start work tomorrow.

terengganu and ahmad said and umnoAt a massive gathering at his
house in Teluk Kalong, Kemaman,
late this afternoon, Ahmad told his supporters that he would assume the post tomorrow.

Eyewitnesses say that several
hundred people had gathered to hear Ahmad speak.

“I never dreamt of being the menteri besar of Terengganu,”
he told his supporters.

“I will work hard,” he said, adding that he would be
“going to office tomorrow”.

However, it is still unclear when Ahmad would be
sworn in as MB.

Earlier today, he had an audience with Sultan Mizan
Zainal Abidin - who is also serving as the Agung -
in Kuala Lumpur.

On his way back to Terengganu, he was escorted by a
strong crowd of 2,000 from the Pahang border to his
house - a 10-kilometer long journey.

It is also learnt that he has managed to convince 13
out of the 22 BN state representatives to back him for the post.

Meanwhile, opposition party PAS today fully supported the
move by the Terengganu palace to appoint Ahmad as MB.

Hadi Awang: Respect palace's decision

hadi awang 010807Party president Abdul Hadi Awang said he believed the
decision by the palace was in accordance with the real wishes of the people of Terengganu.

“We are confident that the palace’s decision to appoint Ahmad
was based in the dissatisfaction of the palace and the people
of Terengganu against the former menteri besar,” he said in a
statement today.

He added that the people of Terengganu would definitely
understand and accept the appointment of Ahmad as it was
them who had to “suffer in the hands of the previous person’s ineffectiveness”.

“We urge the people of Terengganu to respect the wishes
of the palace for the sake of stability and prosperity in the
state,” he added.

The state of Terengganu is presently in a
constitutional turmoil following the appointment
of the palace-backed Ahmad over the previous menteri
besar Idris Jusoh, who has the support of Prime Minister
Abdullah and the 22 BN state representatives in the state.

In the general election, Idris-led BN retained the retained
the state comfortably by winning 24 out of 32 state seats.
PAS won the rest. He was then given the assurance by
the prime minister that he would be reappointed
as the menteri besar.

However, the sultan is not in favour of Idris and has chosen
Ahmad to lead the state. Ahmad is believed to have the
support of the grassroots Umno members and leaders.

PKR: Don’t be provocative

Ahmad, also the Kemaman Umno division chief, received
his appointment letter from the Regency Advisory
Council yesterday morning, almost at the same time
when the 22 BN state representatives submitted
a protest letter to the palace against the appointment
of Ahmad.

Idris and the 22 state representatives also met up
with Abdullah last night to discuss the matter.

Umno too has decided to take action against Ahmad
for disobeying the party line in accepting the palace’s
appointment. He is expected to be sacked the moment
he participates in the swearing-in ceremony,
to be held on Wednesday.

Ahmad however is confident that he has the necessary
support of the state representatives to form a state
government. He has asked for two to three days to
name his exco line-up.

Meanwhile PKR Terengganu today expressed its
disappointment in the crisis over the appointment
of the menteri besar.

The opposition party also urged Umno to respect the
wishes of the palace in the appointment of Ahmad.

“Even if they disagree to that appointment, they
should not be issuing provocative or insulting
statements against the palace,” said the state PKR
secretary Razali Alias in a statement today.

He added that all Terengganu citizens must firmly
stand behind the decision made by the sultan,
who is also the present agong.


Monday, March 24, 2008

MB crisis deepens in Terengganu

MB crisis deepens in Terengganu
K Kabilan | Mar 23, 08 10:45am

Kijal assemblyperson Ahmad Said this morning officially received his appointment letter as the Terengganu menteri besar but a constitutional crisis looms as he was sacked from Umno.

The head of the Regency Advisory Council Raja Tengku Baderulzaman gave Ahmad his appointment letter in a ceremony at Istana Terengganu at 8.30am today. None of the other 22 BN state representatives were present at the ceremony.

ahmad said terengganu 230308However, Ahmad (left) has not been sworn-in yet with the palace expected to fix Wednesday for that ceremony.

According to observers the swearing-in ceremony now looks remote after Umno earlier today sacked Ahmad from the party for disobeying party leadership.

The state’s party leadership decided at a meeting last night to strip Ahmad of his membership after he defied the party leadership by agreeing to take up the post.

Umno president and prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had backed former menteri besar Idris Jusoh to retain the menteri besar post. Idris also had the support of all the 22 BN assemblypersons, excluding Ahmad.

A fallout with the sultan

However Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin of Terengganu - who is also the present king - preferred Ahmad to take over as the state’s menteri besar. Idris is believed to have had a fallout with the sultan over several issues.

It is learnt that Ahmad also had the support of the grassroots Umno leaders and members. Sources say that he had the support of seven out of eight Umno divisions in Terengganu.

Yesterday the sultan’s office announced that Ahmad, also the Kemaman Umno division chief, would be the new menteri besar, finally putting to an end to a 14-day wait for a person to be named for the post. Terengganu was the only state not to have a menteri besar after the March 8 polls.

idris jusoh and terengganuIn the general election, Idris-led BN retained the retained the state comfortably by winning 24 out of 32 state seats. PAS won the rest.

Immediately after the palace’s announcement, the state Umno went into a frenzy as it has been rooting for the re-appointment of Idris, who is also the state Umno chief.

Twenty-two BN state representatives immediately announced that they were boycotting the swearing-in ceremony today to object to the appointment of Ahmad.

Federal Umno leadership also issued a warning to Ahmad not to accept the post, threatening to sack him from the party. That threat materialised last night when the state Umno leadership decided to act against the maverick assemblyperson.

Also this morning, state Umno secretary Rosol Wahid handed over to a palace official a letter signed by the 22 Umno assemblypersons protesting Ahmad’s appointment. The letter also insisted that Idris should be sworn in as the rightful menteri besar.

A snap poll soon?

Constitution expert Prof Abdul Aziz Bari pointed out that under the present situation, it would be difficult for the party-less Ahmad to assume the post.

He said that even if Ahmad is sworn-in, the BN state representatives can call for a vote of no confidence against him.

“In such circumstance, the sultan would then have to name another person who enjoys the support of the majority of the elected representatives or call for a snap state election,” he said.

He said that there was also another precedent to this in Malaysia, going back to the situation in Kelantan in 1977.

“In Kelantan, the PAS assemblypersons - the majority in the house - passed a motion of no confidence against their own menteri besar Mohamed Nasir.

“As it happened however he refused to resign and this gave the federal government an opportunity to declare emergency on the state and eventually called a snap election - and won the state - in 1978,” he added.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Another BN MP ready to jump ship?

Another BN MP ready to jump ship?
Tony Thien | Mar 21, 08 1:12pm

BN-SPDP's Mas Gading MP Dr Tiki Lafe, dropped from his deputy minister’s post, has neither denied nor confirmed speculations that he is quitting his party to join the opposition when contacted today.

Dr. Tiki LafeAsked on the rumours over the phone this morning, the Bidayuh 'ear, nose and throat' specialist-turned-politician would only say, "I am on holiday with my family."

Pressed further on the matter, he added, "I am not saying anything."

Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP), one of four components in the Sarawak BN, has four MPs, including Tiki who was not re-appointed deputy minister on Tuesday.

Instead, the party has two new faces as deputy ministers - Jelaing Mersat, an Iban and Saratok MP, and Jacob Sagan, a Kenyah and Baram MP.

Tiki first contested Mas Gading in the 1999 general election, defeating incumbent and State Reform Party (Star) president Dr Patau Rubis.

Immediately after his victory, Tiki’s then party, Snap, nominated him to replace party veteran Peter Tinggom as deputy minister in the federal cabinet.

When SPDP was formed following the Snap crisis in 2002, Tiki joined the new party and continued as deputy minister in Kuala Lumpur after the 2004 general election.

In the May 8 polls, Tiki defeated Patau and two other independents to win Mas Gading for the third time.

Interestingly, it is learnt that there was a lot of lobbying within SPDP for Tiki to be replaced as candidate for the just-concluded election but last-minute intervention from a third party saw his name back on the candidate’s list.

Meanwhile, Tiki is said to have replied to a Sarawak journalist via SMS today that ‘I am still in KL and due to leave for overseas later."

Richard changes his mind

In another development BN-SUPP's Serian MP Richard Riot, who was reported to have quit his party yesterday, has a change of mind today - he has decided to stay.

richard riot supp bn 200308However, the denial did not come from him directly.

Supp publicity chief Alfred Yap said in a press statement after meeting Serian Supp branch leaders this afternoon that party president Dr George Chan has spoken to Richard today, adding that the MP was upset by newspaper reports about him quitting the party.

Yap said Richard pledged full support for Supp and loyalty to the BN under the leadership of the Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

He added that the MP, who is a party's vice-president, is now in Kuala Lumpur to meet Abdullah to clarify his position.

Yap did not say when Richard would be returning to Kuching or when he would issue a statement to the media.

Attempts by Malaysiakini to contact him on his mobile today were unsuccessful.


T'ganu Umno rejects Ku Li's offer

T'ganu Umno rejects Ku Li's offer
Mar 21, 08 2:43pm

Veteran Umno leader Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s offer to take over the party presidency today received a massive blow when the party leadership in Terengganu refused to back him.

idris jusoh and terengganuTerengganu Umno state chief Idris Jusoh said that there was no need for a change of leadership in Umno as the present leaders were capable of helming the party and country.

“Let us wait for the Umno general assembly. I believe that with the confidence placed in the prime minister by his deputy Najib Abdul Razak, there will be no tussle for power in Umno," Idris told reporters after a function in Marang, Terengganu.

He said he believed that the next Umno general assembly - to be held in June - would endorse Abdullah's leadership.

He also said that Terengganu Umno would continue to back the prime minister.

Idris, the menteri besar before the state assembly was dissolved for the recently held general election, said that though the BN was only eight seats short of a two-thirds majority in the Parliament, the people nevertheless had given their mandate to the coalition and Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

"The cabinet line-up named by Pak Lah (Abdullah) is cohesive and he has laid out a good plan of action (to restore the people's confidence in BN) and I do not see why we need any change,” he said.

Calling for EGM

umno 2007 tengku razaleigh ku li 081107Earlier this week, Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh said he was willing to take over the leadership of the party in order to heal the party in the face of its disastrous defeat in the polls.

"Haven't Umno members realised we've lost five states? Are they still sleeping?" asked the 71-year-old former finance minister.

His Gua Musang division would be holding a special meeting on April 4 to discuss the party and BN's showing in the general election.

Tengku Razaleigh, a Kelantan prince, is also calling for a special Umno general assembly on May 11, when the party celebrates its anniversary, to discuss Umno's showing in the recent polls.

Under the party's constitution, at least 50 per cent of Umno's divisions must agree to such an assembly before it can be called.

Idris’ own position to retain his menteri besar post is still unclear even though it has been 13 days since the election.

It is believed that while he enjoys the support of the BN state representatives, the Sultan of Terengganu is however rooting for another candidate.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Anwar says BN MPs mull defection

Anwar says BN MPs mull defection
Mar 17, 08 7:01pm

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim today said he had held talks with a number of ruling coalition members of parliament interested in defecting after this month's landmark elections.

Anwar, a former deputy premier who was sacked and jailed a decade ago, helms a three-party alliance that made unprecedented gains in March 8 polls against the Barisan Nasional coalition which has ruled for half a century.

anwar ibrahim vk lingam hearing pc 290108 talking"People have come and approached me," Anwar said, adding that he had spoken with "quite a number" and told them their support would not be bought.

"If you want to surrender at a price, then you have chosen the wrong party," he told reporters, adding that they would be welcomed "if they accept our agenda".

Anwar confirmed he was canvassing support from coalition lawmakers in East Malaysia, which represents a power bloc that could unseat the government if it changed hands.

Barisan Nasional will have 140 lawmakers in the new 222-seat parliament, against 199 in the outgoing 219-seat parliament. The opposition alliance claimed 82 seats from just 20 previously, and four more states.

The opposition was today sworn into power in the last of the five states it now controls, including Kelantan which was already held by the Islamic party PAS, while Barisan Nasional was still trying to resolve its power struggles.

Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin from PAS was installed as chief minister in Perak, ending a public squabble among the three opposition parties who will rule there in coalition.

Fighting for political life

Abdullah is fighting for his own political life as he fends off calls for his resignation to take responsibility for the election debacle.

The premier has rejected the pressure to quit, and pushed ahead with the formation of his new administration, with a new slimline cabinet expected to be unveiled tomorrow.

abdullah ahmad badawi election annoucement 130208 talkingAbdullah has promised "new faces" and observers said the line-up will indicate his appetite for reform after the polls, which have transformed Malaysia's political landscape.

The previous cabinet had a whopping 32 ministers, 39 deputy ministers and 20 parliamentary secretaries, with jobs handed out to many of the 14 race-based parties that make up the coalition.

The large cabinet had been criticised as unwieldy and wasteful, and there is speculation that some ministries could be merged in line with the smaller Barisan Nasional representation in parliament.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sultan Trengganu next to snub PM ?

Sultan Terengganu next to snub PM?
K Kabilan | Mar 15, 08 12:31pm

Signs are emerging that the Terengganu royal household is also set to follow the heels of the Raja of Perlis in appointing a menteri besar who is not the Barisan Nasional's choice, paving the way for a possible direct confrontation between the royalty and the federal government.

This morning all 23 BN state assemblypersons from Terengganu were called up for a meeting with the state's Regency Advisory Council.

The council representsTerengganu's 11-year-old regent Tengku Muhammad Ismail, whose father Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin is the present Agong of Malaysia.

The incumbent menteri besar Idris Jusoh - who is also Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's choice to lead the state - was not invited for the meeting.

He was the only one not invited for the meeting scheduled to take place in Putrajaya.

Idris was also believed to be in Putrajaya to meet Abdullah.

In the aftermath of the general election, Idris led BN to a comfortable victory to retain the state by winning 24 of the 32 state seats. PAS won the remaining eight.

He was expected to be sworn in on March 9 but the ceremony was suddenly postponed.

According to an informed source, Idris had a massive fallout with Sultan Mizan. It is learnt that he has yet to have an audience with the king, who is also the Sultan of Terengganu.

The source said the sultan has been unhappy with Idris for sometime now and is seriously pondering to replace him with someone who can work with the Terengganu palace.

“The meeting involving the state representatives today is for the palace to put forward its candidate, seeking a total support for that candidate from the representatives,” said the source.

“The council will also tell the representative as to why the sultan disapproves Idris' candidacy as menteri besar,” he added.

Idris’ shortcomings

It is learnt that the palace was unhappy with the manner the police and the Idris-led state government had handled the Batu Buruk riot on Sept 8 last year.

“The sultan felt that the matter could have been handled in a better way, especially without any live bullets being fired,” added the source.

On that day, a ceramah by polls reform group Bersih which was forcibly dispersed by the police turned into a riot with scores injured, including two PAS supporters who were shot by a policeman. The police have since claimed that it was done in self defence.

"Similarly, the palace is also unhappy with the manner the police targeted PAS supporters on polling day in Rusila by firing teargas to disperse them. The palace feels that the state administration had influenced the police to act in such manner," he added.

He further said that the sultan was also unhappy with the “apparent cockiness” shown by Idris during his tenure as menteri besar.

“On several occasions, he acted as though he was the sultan, making decisions unilaterally and without giving consideration to the royal household.”

At the meeting today, the regency council is also expected to tap into the apparent unhappiness among the grassroots Umno leaders in the state towards Idris, especially over his choice of candidates for the elections.

Many claimed that BN lost some seats this time around due to boycott from Umno.

Several names are being bandied as a possible replacement for Idris, the more popular ones being Ajil assemblyman Rosol Wahid, Cukai assemblyman Mohamad Awang Tera, Telok Pasu state representative Abdul Rahin Mohd Said and Kijal assemblyperson Ahmad Said.

However, the palace is believed to be leaning towards Ahmad Said, who is also the Kemaman Umno division chief. A daily today called him a firebrand, but sources said that the palace has full confidence in him to lead the state .

Double blow for Pak Lah

It is uncertain as to how Abdullah would look into the role played by the palace in choosing a new menteri besar, especially with the rejection of his apparent choice.

If the Terengganu palace proceeds successfully in naming a new menteri besar, this will come as a second blow from the royalty to Abdullah’s administration.

Yesterday the Raja of Perlis, using the state consitution to his favour, named Bintong state representative Md Isa Sabu as the new menteri besar in place of Shahidan Kassim who was chosen by Abdullah to continue to be MB.

It is learnt that Abdullah is standing by his decision to reappoint Shahidan to the post and has sent his deputy Najib Abdul Razak to meet all Perlis BN state representatives to find a solution.

“Whatever happens in Perlis and Terengganu, one thing is certain. A constitutional crisis seems to be looming with the stand taken by the royalty against the expressed wishes of the prime minister,” said a constitutional expert.