MELAKA: After surviving numerous attempts to oust him, Datuk Seri Sulaiman Md Ali has finally fallen.
The Melaka Chief Minister has resigned after a tumultuous 16 months in the hot seat since the last state election.
He is expected to be replaced by state Barisan and Umno chief Datuk Seri Ab Rauf Yusoh.
However, there is speculation swirling that Paya Rumput assemblyman Datuk Rais Yasin may be sworn in instead. Rais is a state exco member.
His resignation was confirmed by Deputy Prime Minister and Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in Kampung Lebu in Bentong, Pahang, last night.
Ahmad Zahid said he had received Sulaiman’s resignation letter.
He said he would be seeking an audience with Melaka Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Mohd Ali Rustam to present the names of possible candidates to be appointed as the new chief minister.
“I hope for the wisdom of TYT (Tuan Yang Terutama) in accepting the letter.
“The swearing-in ceremony (of the new chief minister) will be held according to the date approved by him (TYT),” he said, according to Bernama.
However, Ahmad Zahid did not say when he would seek an audience with Mohd Ali or the number of individuals on the list.
Asked if Ab Rauf’s name would be on the list, Ahmad Zahid replied: “I cannot confirm or deny. We are waiting for an announcement from the Melaka government.”
To a question about whether the change of the chief minister was part of the planning for the formation of a unity government in Melaka, as he announced recently, Ahmad Zahid said there was a possibility that it would happen.
“We will see the latest developments when the new chief minister convenes the state legislative assembly after Raya,” he said.
Sulaiman, 56, who is the Lendu assemblyman, was first sworn in as the state’s 12th Chief Minister on March 9, 2020.
He was anointed by the then-Melaka Umno leadership after the Pakatan Harapan-led state government collapsed.
However, during his tenure, Sulaiman faced various obstacles.
The biggest attempt to oust him came on Oct 4, 2021, when four assemblymen withdrew their support for the then-state government led by Barisan Nasional and Perikatan Nasional.
This led to a state election being held in November 2021, which saw Barisan secure a thumping victory. Sulaiman was again sworn in as the Chief Minister.
He took his oath of office, loyalty and secrecy before Melaka Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Dr Mohd Ali Rustam late in the night of Nov 20, just hours after Barisan secured the landslide victory.
Despite Barisan’s victory, Sulaiman has seen several moves to remove him from the office.
In July last year, speculation arose about a possible no-confidence vote against him, which was said to be in the offing during the state legislative assembly meeting. However, this did not materialise.
Yesterday, Sulaiman’s aides were seen packing their belongings to pave the way for his successor and officials of the new administration.
A reliable source from the Chief Minister’s office told The Star that the swearing-in ceremony would take place at 3pm tomorrow.
Earlier, during a press conference, Ab Rauf urged the people to wait patiently for the official announcement, indicating there would be changes in the administration.
“All parties need to be patient and calm in (navigating) this issue (on the new Melaka Chief Minister),” Ab Rauf told reporters outside Seri Negeri in Ayer Keroh here.
Asked if the issue was discussed during the maiden state Umno liaison committee meeting, Ab Rauf said: “There was no need to do so; this issue has nothing to do with us”.
The meeting held at Seri Negeri yesterday was the first for those who won in the party polls on March 19, with several new faces now being part of the state liaison committee.
Ab Rauf is likely to lead a unity government that will comprise assemblymen from Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan. Currently, the state exco comprises one MCA and one MIC man, with the rest coming from Umno.
Attempts to reach Sulaiman for comment failed.