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.