Commentary Politics

Don’t take your eyes off the combative Ahmad Said

Wan Azizah (second from right) talks about a willingness to work with Pribumi Bersatu but stays away from meetings and events involving its prime mover.

Written by Aziz Hassan

“Mid-week Notes” – A weekly column – 18/08/16

HE sounded confident that the worst was over and with that Terengganu Mentri Besar Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman must be a much calmer man.

Unlike in most other situations, the Umno politician has been facing pressures and threats from no other that an own party man in Kijal assemblyman Datuk Seri Ahmad Said, his predecessor for one term.

Ahmad took over from Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh after the 2008 election in rather contentious circumstances, with the palace involved in the dispute over the choice of MB and the federal leadership flip-flopping in its decisions.

Immediately there was a bit of chatter by people familiar with the political personalities there that Ahmad was going to be different, rather difficult and combative too. A cowboy-like approach in the way he handled things was to be expected.

True enough and by the time his term was up, the national leadership decided that he had to go.

The ultimate test for any leader is in an election and compared to the one before that, BN, or rather Umno with the exception of one seat contested by the MCA, did very badly in 2013. That has left the governing coalition open to unnecessary pressures and in the case of Ahmad and those aligned to him, the threat to use the slim majority held by BN in the state assembly as a convenient weapon to unsettle Razif.

Ahmad has been doing this in the last few years, even having to gall to blame Razif’s apparently ineffective leadership when in fact he was the one who caused Terengganu BN to be in such a precarious state in the assembly post-2013.

From having 24 seats in the 32-member assembly after the 2008 election, BN saw that reduced to only 17 five years later.

But despite his previous attempt to unseat Razif fizzling out recently, Razif would be well advised to not under-estimate his predator who is likely to keep lurking somewhere in the background.

Razif should be constantly reminded that the two-seat BN majority is Ahmad’s best bet and he has often alluded to this in his campaign against Razif.

Uncertainties remain within opposition pact

Closer to the centre Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia or Pribumi Bersatu, the new party to be helmed by former deputy prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, awaits the approval of the Registrar of Societies to be officially registered.

While some in Umno have spoken out to dismiss this outfit, a few have called for caution.

It cannot be determined now how effective the former Umno senior politicians who are with Muhyiddin will be in attracting support but people have been talking more about the influence of the new party’s prime mover, former prime minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.

Reports from the ground indicate that it has not all been plain sailing and the response so far hasn’t been earth-shattering.

Then there is also the matter of how fractious the opposition pact has become, with one of its previous main components, PAS, going a different way.

The place of the Islamist party has been taken over by its splinter Amanah but whether or not the latter is effectively filling up a vacuum has not been put to a serious test.

PKR is in it with Muhyiddin and Mahathir but here too there is an obvious anomaly.

Conspicuously absent from all the meetings and events the PKR politicians have been having with this group is its leader Datuk Seri Dr. Wan Azizah Ismail and her daughter Nurul Izzah, the mother also an opposition leader.

So it’s an “I’m in but I’m also out” situation and as long as Mahathir is involved, it does look like the Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim clan will not want to be seen to be working with their “sworn enemy No. 1”. Anwar has certainly told them to be very careful and doesn’t want to see Mahathir hijacking his platform.

Wan Azizah has made statements that appear to show a willingness to work with this latest attempt by the opposition to evict BN from Putrajaya and at the same time stays away from Mahathir & Co.

How long more we have to wait to have a choice of a truly united opposition front is anyone’s guess but it doesn’t look like it’ll be anytime soon.




About the author


Aziz Hassan

A journalist since July 1976 with both the English and Malaya press and was with two newspaper groups before The Mole. Does corporate report-writing and translation in his free time. Currently also a contributing weekly rugby columnist for the New Straits Times.