No end yet in sight

On the phone: Saarani leaving Istana Kinta after his audience with the Sultan. — Bernama

One audience after another at Istana Kinta fails to settle MB crisis in the silver state.

PERAK is in the throes of a full-blown crisis.

Negotiations to form a government have reached a dead-end with no party or side able to convince the palace that they have the numbers to form a government.

Reporters have lost count of the leaders going in and out of the ornate gates of Istana Kinta.

Each time one of them emerged, it seemed that a solution was in sight but hours later, it would be back to square one

“As of now, Perak is still hung, ” said a top Perak Pakatan Harapan leader who has been watching the rollercoaster-like chain of events since Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu was ousted as mentri besar at the state assembly last Friday.

Perak may be headed for a snap state election that nobody really wants if the political parties cannot reach a consensus in the next few days.

When Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi left Ipoh after his audience with the Sultan of Perak yesterday morning, many believed he had secured a solution to the impasse or else he would not have returned to Kuala Lumpur.

He had also painted a rosy picture of the Perak situation when he briefed the Umno supreme council the night before.

The talk then was that Umno’s choice for MB, Datuk Saarani Mohamad, would be sworn in by 5pm yesterday while the first batch of state exco members would be sworn in later in the evening.

However, by afternoon, it became clear that Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and PAS were not onboard.

There would be no swearing-in or, for that matter, a new state government.

The two parties also did not turn up for an audience requested by Istana Kinta, with PAS announcing that it was acting on the instruction of its central leadership.

Bersatu and PAS are playing hardball with Umno.

It is learnt that Bersatu’s condition to coming onboard is that the MB post goes to Rungkup assemblyman Datuk Shahrul Zaman Yahya. They will not endorse Saarani for the top post.

Shahrul, who is from from Umno, has been close to Faizal since their days in Umno Youth before both went their separate ways.

However, Bersatu’s insistence on Shahrul has less to do with his friendship with Faizal than a face-saving move for Bersatu.

Bersatu leaders are of the opinion that Umno should make some concession if they want Bersatu’s support.

Bersatu leaders are still sore and humiliated by the ouster of Faizal who is also their deputy president.

When asked if there was light at the end of the tunnel to the crisis, a Bersatu leader from Perak said somewhat sarcastically: “Umno can shine their torchlight with any party they like.”

The opinion in Bersatu is that Umno stabbed it in the back and that is hard to forgive.

Some said that what happened has been like a punch to the stomach for Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who has yet to comment on the power struggle in Perak.

When Muhyiddin attended the final day of the Johor state assembly last Sunday, he had a closed-door meeting with Bersatu assemblymen during which he briefed them on what happened in Perak.

He said he wanted the Johor assembly sitting to go on smoothly and urged them not to take out their frustrations on the Johor government.

Some took that as a sign that he had cooled down over the Perak crisis but that was apparently not the case.

Unhappiness over the last MB unravelled the government and it looks like disagreement over who will be the next MB is the stumbling block to a new government.

Istana Kinta is keen on a swift and amicable solution to the crisis.

The idea of a coalition between Umno and Pakatan is not off the table and it is understood that the palace is not averse to the idea.

However, when Saarani was summoned to the palace in the afternoon – his second audience in one day – he informed the Sultan that he will withdraw as a candidate for the MB post if Pakatan is part of the government.

It is believed that he is not willing to be MB of such a coalition.

Ahmad Zahid met with Barisan Nasional ministers in Parliament yesterday afternoon.

He was scheduled to meet with leaders of Barisan last night to get their views on finding a solution for Perak.

Unless the leaders in the silver state come to a compromise, the Perak crisis may spill over and grow into a Putrajaya crisis.

The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.

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