THE gloves are off for Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and he is preparing to strike back following the hostile moves from the Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad camp the past week.
Kedah, which is still a Pakatan Harapan state government, is in his crosshairs and it is learnt that Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir will be out as mentri besar by the middle of next week.
If all goes well, the new mentri besar is likely to be Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor, the Jeneri assemblyman from PAS.
Sanusi, who cut his political teeth as the political secretary to the late mentri besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak, is expected to make the requisite courtesy call on the Sultan of Kedah in the next few days.
The incoming Perikatan Nasional state government will comprise 15 assemblymen from PAS, four from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, and two each from Umno and PKR.
With a total of 23 assemblymen, Perikatan will have a solid 10-man majority in the 36-seat state assembly.
Mukhriz’s government would have collapsed much earlier had he not appealed to Senior Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali for help to hold on to Kedah.
It is learnt that Azmin then approached PAS and Umno to maintain the status quo and give Mukhriz a chance.
PAS sources said Mukhriz had even offered them state executive councillor posts but PAS president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang said his party was not interested in work with Parti Amanah Negara.
Those who cooperated with Mukhriz think he has not appreciated what they did and that he took them for granted.
This will be the second time Mukhriz has had to make a premature exit from the top job in the state.
He was mentri besar for barely three years from 2013 to 2016 before he was sacked by then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Back then, Mukhriz’s troubles began because his father Dr Mahathir had fallen out with Najib.
It is ironic that the script and even some of the actors have not changed much from then to now – Dr Mahathir is now trying to topple Muhyiddin, and Mukhriz is once again the sacrificial lamb.
The move to give the top job to PAS will be good optics for Perikatan and would send a signal that the coalition believes in power-sharing.
Muhyiddin had adopted a hands-off policy on Kedah even though Mukhriz’s Pakatan state government no longer commanded the majority.
The Bersatu president was then still hopeful for a reconciliation with his party chairman Dr Mahathir and had left the Kedah government alone as a goodwill gesture.
But everything changed earlier this week after Dr Mahathir submitted a motion for a vote of no confidence against Muhyiddin’s premiership.
It was a declaration of war and it pushed Muhyiddin to take the bull by the horns by moving against Mukhriz.
It is unclear how the impending development will affect Mukhriz’s chances in his bid to challenge Muhyiddin for the Bersatu presidency in the party polls later this year.
Muhyiddin is not only going for Mukhriz but he is also preparing to take Dr Mahathir head-on in Parliament on May 18 at the one-day sitting.
The Speaker has allowed the elder man’s motion against Muhyiddin, a move widely seen as a sign that Muhyiddin is confident of his numbers.
Pakatan has remained quite silent on whether they will rally behind Dr Mahathir.
It is a Catch-22 situation for Pakatan. They will look bad if they do not vote for the motion but if they do, it would be seen as an indirect endorsement of Dr Mahathir’s leadership.
Pakatan has endorsed PKR chief Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as the Opposition leader in a letter to the Speaker on May 4.
It is unlikely that the coalition will want to give Dr Mahathir the impression that they want him back as their leader.
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