MB faces revolt as the Perak pendulum swings again


Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu. -filepic

DATUK Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu was his usual chirpy self, big smiles and full of jokes as he chaired a state exco meeting on Wednesday (Dec 2).

This was despite the fact that it could be his last exco meeting as Perak Mentri Besar (MB).

A revolt within his own government has been brewing for more than a month and he knows the coming week could spell the end of his tenure as MB.

A private member’s bill tabled by Datuk Abdul Manap Hashim, the Umno assemblyman for Pengkalan Baharu, is set to unseat Faizal from the hot seat.

The bill, in the guise of a motion of confidence, is one of those classic Malay silat moves – graceful at the onset but lethal when administered.

It is presented as a motion of confidence but is likely to end up a verdict of no confidence against Faizal or Peja, as he is known in political circles.

And all this expected to happen when the state legislative assembly convenes for its Budget session from Dec 4-10.

The cards are stacked against Faizal, who is also Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia deputy president.

The government side has 33 assemblymen – 25 from Umno, five from Bersatu and three from PAS – in the 59-seat state assembly.

Umno and PAS cannot push off Faizal on their own.

However, Pakatan which has 24 assemblymen – 16 DAP, five Amanah and three PKR – is also unlikely to throw a lifeline to Faizal.

As such, he may be facing a political tsunami in the coming week and a well-placed Perak insider said that “only a miracle can save him”.

“This problem between Umno and Peja has been going on since the Sheraton Move. It’s not our problem if they want to wash their dirty linen in public. We don’t want to get involved but we are the Opposition, you cannot expect us to prop up Peja, ” said state opposition leader Dr Abdul Aziz Bari, who is also Tebing Tinggi assemblyman.

Abdul Aziz said Pakatan leaders who met on Wednesday have decided to “move as one” and are awaiting further instruction from their central leadership.

“We have to be prepared because legally speaking, if the MB falls, the government goes with him, so anything can happen, ” said Abdul Aziz, who was a constitutional law lecturer before he joined DAP.

Pakatan leaders blame Faizal for the fall of the state government and are thirsting for revenge.

“We put up with him for 22 months but Umno is rebelling after only nine months, ” said Abdul Aziz with a laugh.

What caused this internal mutiny against the MB?

Actually, it is hard not to like Faizal. The 50-year-old politician is basically an easy-going person with loads of personal charm.

He is not highly-educated but he is street-smart and that can go a long way in politics.

Apparently, relations between Umno and Faizal were rocky from day one.

Umno leaders claimed he tried to use the Palace’s name to block certain Umno figures when he was forming the state exco in March.

The Umno side was so angry that a delegation from the party sought an audience with the Palace to get the real story.

What they learnt sent their ties with Bersatu tumbling downhill.

According to lawyer and columnist Ivanpal S. Grewal, the root of the problem is the bad blood and distrust between the Umno and Bersatu.

Umno leaders think Faizal is trying to get Bersatu to supplant Umno as the leading Malay party in Perak.

“What’s happening in Perak is a proxy war for pole position, ” said Ivanpal.

The tipping point came when Faizal appointed Umno’s Pengkalan Hulu assemblyman Datuk Aznel Ibrahim as his political secretary in October.

This was done without consulting Umno leaders, who saw it as an attempt to “steal” yet another of their assemblymen.

It is possible the motion of confidence plot was hatched after that.

Faizal is the only Bersatu man who won a state seat in Chenderiang in the 14th General Election in 2018. The other four assemblymen in his party are party-hoppers – two from Umno (one of whom is his sister-in-law), one from PKR, and another from Amanah.

He has been one of those shooting stars, going overnight from special officer to Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir to MB of Perak, where his father was a well-known Umno leader.

Faizal has struggled to fill the shoes left behind by his predecessor Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir who was known to be systematic, hardworking and had a plan for Perak.

He was supposed to have been replaced by state Umno chief and Kota Tampan assemblyman Datuk Saarani Mohamad when the state government changed hands in March. However, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin wanted him to continue helming the state.

But what is it that has made Umno so bold as to turn to the state assembly to unseat the MB?

The answer may lie in the whispers going around that Faizal has problems with the Palace and has not been granted an audience for some time now.

Umno has taken that as signal that the time is right to strike at the MB.

Faizal, said a state exco member close to him, is still trying to salvage the situation and is talking to Umno and PAS.

He had told the exco meeting on Wednesday: “Why are you all doing this? If you want the post, I can give it up”.

He also wished that people would stop spreading slanderous stories about his private life.

Removing Faizal may be the easy part. After that comes the hard part.

Will his opponents be able to form a stable government without the five Bersatu assemblymen?

Will the Palace come along on yet another power play in the state?

Or will the state government collapse, thus causing a snap state election?

The above Perak insider said the aim is to replace Faizal, not the government.

“There will be no changes to the Bersatu or PAS exco members. Our issue is with Peja not the Bersatu assemblymen. They will remain where they are, ” said the Perak insider.

Perak politics has often resembled a pendulum, swinging from one side to another.

Unfortunately, this time the pendulum seems to be swinging against the charming and likeable Faizal.

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