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Monday March 17, 2008

Triple joy for Perak as birthday boy Nizar assumes post


clara.chooi@thestar.com.my

IPOH: After more than a week of anticipation since the March 8 polls, Perak Mentri Besar-designate Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin is scheduled to be sworn in at Istana Iskandariah in Kuala Kangsar today – his 51st birthday.

State DAP chief Ngeh Koo Ham said the ceremony, scheduled to start at 11.30am, marked a historic occasion of triple happiness for the state.

“We are celebrating the birth of a prince, the birth of a new state government and the birthday of a new Mentri Besar,” he said.

He said he received a call from the palace at 10.30am yesterday, informing him of the ceremony and that three leaders in the DAP-PKR-PAS coalition were invited to witness the occasion.

Earlier in Ayer Tawar, Ngeh, who was formerly Opposition leader in the state assembly, said his old post would be maintained and would now given to a Barisan Nasional representative.

“On principle, we (the DAP-PKR-PAS coalition) have agreed to create the post of state Opposition leader.

“We hope Barisan will support this,” he said.

He added that although the post was not provided for in the Perak Constitution, like the posts of Deputy Mentri Besar I and II, the position of Opposition leader would be merely for administrative purposes.

“We are very fair and this is a democratic system. Having an Opposition leader in the state assembly is the basis of such a system,” he said.

On calls from certain quarters urging the Sultan to consider giving Barisan another chance at heading the state, Ngeh said: “They should respect the Sultan’s decision. The palace has already accepted all 31 signatures of the assemblymen in the DAP-PKR-PAS coalition.”

Solemn moment: Ngeh placing flowers at Ong’s grave in the Manjung Kutien Association Cemetery in Ayer Tawar on Sunday.

Ngeh was speaking to reporters after paying his respects to the late Ong Hock Chen at the Manjung Kutien Association Cemetery in Ayer Tawar, some 80km from here.

Ong, an impoverished rubber tapper, was the founder of the Ayer Tawar DAP branch and the person who recruited Ngeh into the party in 1989. He died of lung cancer at the age of 60 on June 28, 2000.

“Ong’s name is synonymous with the DAP in Ayer Tawar. He kept the fire of the party burning, even through its darkest times. There was a time when the entire branch comprised just one member – him – and yet he refused offers to cross over to Barisan,” said Ngeh.

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