KUALA LUMPUR – February 22, 2016: It may sounds absurd to the skeptic among Kedahans but there are those who believed that newly minted Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah has made the right moves so far in stabilising the political atmosphere in the state.
This was after he reappointed all nine state executive council members who used to work for his predecessor Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir yesterday.
“I thought he was going to remove those he deemed as ‘orang Mukhriz’ (Mukhriz’s men) but he didn’t,” said 57 years old paddy farmer Osman Idris of Pendang.
“They ousted Mukhriz due to his so-called leadership failure yet kept those who used to work under him? That is…odd,” the staunch Umno supporter told The Mole.
Some even felt that Bashah was courting a rebellion as some of his supporters may be unhappy to be side-lined in such a manner.
Especially so, after they had went all out in the so-called ‘Mukhriz ouster’ that inevidently plunged the state into the recent leadership crisis.
However, according to a well-placed source, those in Bashah’s camp were already in the know of his plan and they have all agreed to it.
“At the end of the day, we all want Umno to win Kedah in the next general election and that won’t happen without some give and take,” said the source.
The fact is that, although the Kedah MB crisis has been resolved, the tensions brewing amongst Kedahans were far from gone.
Several pro-Mukhriz banners, particularly in Jitra and Ayer Hitam, which were “Mukhriz’s fortress”, were still hung along the road there.
“The way I see it, Bashah is trying to bring order to the house,” said Associate Professor Dr Mohd Azizudin Mohd Sani of Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM).
He pointed out that Bashah has the right to pick whoever he wanted to be the Kedah state executive councillors.
“But at the same time, he also knew that Kedah Umno cannot afford to suffer anymore fissures, he needs to stabilise the party as soon as possible.
“Simply ousting those who are seen as Mukhriz’s men would be bad for his image because by doing so it would look as if he is purging everyone that is closed to Mukhriz.
“Right now he does not have sound reasons to oust them.
“However, he can still add in new faces into the mix after the current state executive councillor term ends this May,” he reasoned.
Geo-strategist Dr Azmi Hassan from Universiti Tekonologi Malaysia (UTM) also echoed similar sentiment on Bashah’s “tactical” move in retaining some of the so-called Mukhriz’s men.
“As always, these moves have it purposes. As it is, he is trying to portray that Mukhriz is the only problem in Kedah’s politics and not Umno as a whole,” said Azmi.
According to him the perception that Bashah wanted to create is that he can work with not only his supporters but everyone else.
“Such a move can also be read in such a way that the turmoil in Kedah is strictly Kedah Umno’s business and that Putrajaya has got nothing to do with Mukhriz’s removal.
“It is very critical for Bashah to demonstrate that he is his own man and Putrajaya has limited role in the new Kedah administration.
“Re-appointing the previous state excos is part of Bashah’s game plan to ensure that Kedah Umno, under his rule, will become stronger than the one during Mukhriz’s era,” Azmi explained.
Be that as it may, Kupang (Umno) state assemblymen Harun Abdul Aziz viewed that whatever plans the party has will be useless if they (party leaders) do not “go down to the ground.”
“When relationship has been strained there must be a consistent interaction between them…there is no other way.
“Because if we (Kedah Umno) really wants to win Kedahan’s heart, we must serve them first. Then only will we get a clearer picture,” said Harun.
He added that even he could not really tell what Kedahans are thinking after the MB crisis.
“Well in my constituency, it’s awfully quiet but you can tell that something is boiling from the inside…it’s like the calm before the storm,” he quipped.