It’s deja vu as Mukhriz heads down a familiar path

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 14 May 2020

ALOR SETAR: It is deja vu for embattled Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir (pic).

He had stepped into the state’s top job back in 2013 but in less than three years, Kedah Umno declared that it lost confidence in him and shortly after that, Mukhriz told the world he had lost the confidence of the state assembly and stepped down.

This time around, as Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) deputy president and back in the Mentri Besar seat, he is again losing his grip in just over two years after two PKR assemblymen jumped ship on Tuesday.

The first time, Mukhriz quit because of the fallout between his father, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, with then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

This time, Mukhriz is back walking on the edge because his father has had a falling out with Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

The split now was caused by the political realignment at Putrajaya that saw Perikatan Nasional taking over the Federal Government from Pakatan Harapan earlier this year.

While Mukhriz may have to bow out before the full term for the second time, this political episode also marks the second time PAS may helm Kedah.

The first time was in 2008 when, led by the late Tan Sri Azizan Ismail, the party wrestled the state from Barisan Nasional in the 12th General Election. At the time, PAS was part of Pakatan Rakyat with PKR and DAP.

Azizan, who was the Sungai Limau assemblyman, became the first mentri besar ever who was not from Umno. His tenure as mentri besar, however, ended in the 13th General Election after Umno, led by Mukhriz, won a majority in the state assembly.

Universiti Utara Malaysia political science lecturer Professor Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani said Kedah’s government had been perched precariously since 2018.

“While the narrow majority was accepted by the different factions before this, the government could collapse if just two assemblymen defected. And it is happening now,” he said.

Prof Azizuddin said the Sultan could choose several ways to resolve this issue.

The academician said that according to the Kedah Constitution, the Sultan cannot remove a mentri besar from office.

He said the removal of the mentri besar could only be done through a vote of no confidence in the state assembly.

“However, there is precedence that mentris besar were sacked through statutory declarations submitted to the Sultan.

“The Sultan can interview state assemblymen individually. This happened in the political crisis of February 2016 when Mukhriz stepped down the first time after the state Regency Council met each assemblyman and decided that Mukhriz lost the confidence of the state assembly,” he pointed out.

He said the Sultan could also call for a special sitting of the state assembly and allow the vote of no confidence to take place, or give an audience to each state assemblyman individually to get their views.

He added that Mukhriz might also ask to dissolve the state assembly to allow for state elections.

“Based on what happened recently in Johor, Melaka and Perak, I believe the Sultan may grant audience to the assemblymen and make a decision based on the meetings,” he said.

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