KUALA LUMPUR – January 21, 2016: It is simply too early for anyone to start guessing who will be the next Kedah Mentri Besar (MB) because ousting the current one is not going to be exactly a walk in the park.
Such was the views expressed by several analysts over the recent political upheaval implicating Kedah Umno after almost all of its division leaders staged a “coup” against Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, who is also the state party chief.
Associate Professor Mohd Azizudin Mohd Sani of Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) said contrary to the opinion of many, the Prime Minister does have not have an absolute power to appoint or sack a menteri besar.
He said there were only two ways to remove Mukhriz from his post.
“It’s either to have the majority of Kedah state assemblymen to cast their vote of no confidence or to have the Council of Regency to do it (oust Mukhriz).
“There are 36 state assembly seats in Kedah (BN: 21, Opposition: 15). They only need 19 assemblymen to vote Mukhriz out.
“But, he (Mukhriz) can counter this by disbanding all state assembly seats and call for a snap poll…if he can get the approval from the Sultan,” said Azizudin.
Azizudin also said that Barisan Nasional was “lucky” that the opposition parties were having their own turmoil, adding “….had they were still solid, then things could have become really ugly.”
“The differences in the amount the state assembly seats between BN and the opposition are not that wide.
“It only takes six assemblymen to jump-ship to tip the scale into their (opposition’s) favour,” he said.
Azizudin also agreed that the sentiment of the people must be taken into consideration because if the Sultan or the Council of Regency perceived the ‘Mukhriz-ouster’ contradicts the people’s aspiration then such thing will not happen.
When asked on how will such issue affects the prospect of BN retaining Kedah in the next general election, he said, “as it is, there will be a huge vote swing, especially the youth, from BN to the opposition.”
“Based on the research that I did during the previous general election, Mukhriz was the main factor in Kedah why young voters voted BN instead of the opposition.
“If they (BN) failed to solve this amicably…BN will probably lose Kedah to Pas,” he told The Mole.
Geo-strategist Dr Azmi Hassan of Perdana School and Geospatial Institute also agreed that the so-called ‘coup d’état’ against Mukhriz will be advantageous for Pas.
“If he (Mukhriz) decided to fight, then the party will be facing a bruising battle between the two camps and this could be an added advantage to the opposition in Kedah, especially Pas.
“In fact, this episode will encourage Pas to go alone because Umno in Kedah is at its weakest stage now.
“The best scenario is that Mukhriz to step down gracefully in order to minimise the negative impact on Kedah Umno,” Azmi wrote to The Mole.
He added that the turmoil will be more severe if Mukhriz continued to hold on to power while not having the majority support of the state political structure because it will be hard for him to govern Kedah.
“There is no way the MB can function without the support of other local politicians.
“However, I don’t think that those who are directly involved in the Mukhriz-ouster attempt, such as Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah (Bakar Bata), Datuk Ahmad Lebai Sudin (Bukit Lada) and Datuk Ahmad Zaini Japar (Bukit Kayu Hitam) are not the appropriate candidates for the post,” he said.
So far it has been widely speculated that the trio were the candidates for the new Kedah MB.
However, there are currently no signs hinting that Mukhriz will tender his resignation any time soon.