PETALING JAYA: The Kedah government is headed for a crisis with detractors of Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak in the state executive council set to make a fresh bid to oust him.
Datuk Phahrolrazi Mohd Zawawi and Dr Ismail Salleh have met PAS president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang to inform him of their intention not to renew their term of office as state exco members when it expires on March 12.
Two other exco members, Datuk Taulan Mat Rasul and Dr Hamdan Mohamed Khalib, are expected to follow suit although the former, when contacted, declined to confirm, saying the matter was “confidential”.
“I am very concerned about what is happening but let's wait for the president to decide. I am not sure how many more may follow. Everything depends on the president,” said Taulan who is state Religion, Education and Cooperatives chairman.
It is the practice in the Kedah Government that state exco members renew their oath of office every year. The swearing-in ceremony is scheduled for Tuesday, and Phahrolrazi and Dr Ismail are understood to have indicated that they will not be attending, which is as good as saying that they are quitting the state exco.
Their action is widely seen as a protest against the leadership of Azizan, who has snubbed previous attempts by the top party echelon to persuade him to step aside as Mentri Besar.
Azizan, who was in Kuala Lumpur accompanying the Kedah Regency Council chairman at the Rulers' Conference, said he would stay put.
“There have been so many rumours the last few months that I am resigning, that I have submitted my letter and even that I am stepping down in a few hours.
“All not true. I am still the MB, still healthy and capable,” he said in a telephone interview.
He brushed off suggestions that his administration would be destablised with the state exco members' resignations.
“There have been so many attempts to undermine me but I am always confident. You can tell from my voice that I am not in a panic mode. I am cool,” he said.
Asked if he was disappointed by what was taking place, he said: “Disappointment is not the word: I am very upset. I never imagined that my own party people would do this to me.”
The Mentri Besar, however, hinted that a decision would be made soon on the issue because there were still a few days to go before the swearing-in which will take place before the chairman of the Regency Council, Datuk Seri Utama Tunku Annuar Sultan Badlishah.
This is the second political mutiny to hit Azizan who was reported to have been struggling with ill health for the last one year. Azizan suffered a heart attack last year and the party members in Kedah fear the state may fall to Barisan Nasional unless there is a change in leadership.
In September last year, the PAS central leadership tried to get Azizan to take on a reduced role by appointing a deputy mentri besar.
The party wanted Phahrolrazi, an engineer, to come in as Deputy Mentri Besar and a medical report on Azizan's health had even been prepared as the basis for the new arrangement.
Hadi was also scheduled to seek an audience with the Sultan to inform him of the change but Azizan and his supporters put up strong resistance and the plans fizzled out. Relations between Azizan and Phahrolrazi have gone downhill since then.
Azizan, who will be back in Alor Setar today, also said there was no need to meet Hadi on the issue.
“I meet them all the time and I have many things to do when I return to Kedah; so many funerals and weddings to attend,” he said.
Phahrolrazi neither confirmed nor denied the political development.
“Reporters have been calling me the whole morning. I have to keep silent for now,” he said.
In ALOR SETAR, Christopher Quah quoted Azizan as saying that letters of appointment for the excos would be sent out soon.
“Until then, none can say that they have rejected their appointment,” Azizan said in his email reply.
The Kedah executive council comprises seven members from PAS and three from PKR.
Hadi, met after the launch of Karnival Kedah Sejahtera at the Kompleks Pas Pokok Sena on Wednesday night, said Azizan as Mentri Besar had the right to appoint or drop any exco member.
“This is a normal practice in an administration.”