PETALING JAYA: Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, who is struggling to hold on to his Kedah Mentri Besar post, had to cancel the weekly state executive council meeting after only three members showed up.
It was a defiant boycott by the other exco members who are part of the mutiny to unseat him.
There was sufficient quorum for the meeting to go on but it is understood that Mukhriz did not proceed because it would be pointless to make any decision on state matters with the political crisis raging in the background.
There are 10 exco members, including the mentri besar, but only three were present: Datuk Aminuddin Omar, Datuk Suraya Yaacob and Datuk Norsabrina Mohd Noor.
Aminuddin is the “Lone Ranger” who has stood by Mukhriz and who refused to have anything to do with the statutory declarations signed by the other assemblymen.
It is believed that a total of 19 assemblymen have signed statutory declarations to say that they have lost confidence in Mukhriz’s leadership and to urge the Umno president to take action.
The media which was present in full force was, for the first time, not allowed beyond the gates of the Wisma Darulaman state government building yesterday.
Norsabrina evaded the media by using her non-official car. She had just been discharged from hospital a day earlier after passing out from exhaustion and stress.
Mukhriz’s silver Mercedes Benz arrived at the government complex at about 11.40am. He had earlier had his weekly pre-state exco meeting audience with the Regency Council.
Meanwhile in Kuala Lumpur, the Prime Minister’s official Perdana limousine was seen whizzing past the palace gates shortly before 8am for what is believed to be Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s audience with Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah.
Najib’s palace visit has further intensified speculation that the change of mentri besar in Kedah is only a matter of time.
Putrajaya sources said it was unlikely that the royal audience was the usual pre-Cabinet briefing as there was no Cabinet meeting yesterday.
All ministers and MPs are in Parliament for a special sitting on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
The under-siege mentri besar has tried to put on a brave front even though it is apparent that he has lost the support of Umno leaders in Kedah and the backing of his party president.
Umno leaders and state assemblymen have kept their distance from him as they await a solution to the crisis.
On Tuesday night, there was a big sembahyang hajat gathering at the Mesjid Al Abrar near Mukhriz’s Ayer Hitam constituency.
Aminuddin, who is Jitra assemblyman, was the only state exco member at his side during the prayer session.
However, Kota Siputeh assemblyman Abu Hasan Shariff appeared later to speak at a ceramah, which drew a crowd of about 800.
Abu Hasan is a staunch supporter of Mukhriz but he had also signed the statutory declaration.
He told the crowd that “I had tried to run and hide but they chased me until I nearly fell into the sea”. It was his way of saying that he was pressured to sign the statutory declaration.
Mukhriz’s supporters are also planning a big gathering at the stadium next week.
Putrajaya sources said the outcome of Najib’s audience with the King would be announced later. This is because royal consent to a change of mentri besar, if any, would have to be validated by an official notification from the palace, which has to be conveyed to the Regency Council in Alor Setar.
In other words, the green light on a new mentri besar will come from the King and not from the Regency Council.
In the event that Mukhriz is removed as mentri besar, his likely replacement is Kedah Umno deputy chief Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah.
Ahmad Bashah, who is Bakar Bata assemblyman, is also a senator and deputy minister.
The Regency Council, in an extremely rare move, issued a press release on Tuesday denying any role in the ongoing political crisis.
The statement stressed that it was non-partisan and that its council members were neutral and had not shown any bias.