KUALA LUMPUR – The political crisis over the appointment of Sabah Chief Minister has hardly settled down, a crisis has erupted in the most unlikely state in the country, Perlis over the appointment of the Menteri Besar.
In as far as the local political scene is concerned, Perlis has seen relatively smooth transition after every general election.
This is more so when Perlis being the smallest state has only three parliamentary seats and 15 states seats but now the crisis over the Menteri Besar appears to be brewing into mega proportions, unseen and most unexpected by Malaysians.
The question arose 12 days after the 14th general election (GE14) when all other states had their respective menteris besar and chief ministers appointed with the line-up of state executive councils sworn in before their rulers and governors, while Perlis was still struggling to resolve the number one state government post.
On May 12, three days after GE14, Perlis Barisan Nasional chairman Tan Sri Shahidan Kassim announced the state assemblyman for Tambun Tulang, Datuk Ismail Kassim who is his younger brother had been proposed as the new menteri besar and a swearing-in ceremony would be determined by the palace.
As though in disagreement, at an official function on the next day in Kangar, the Raja of Perlis Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Putra Jamalullail pointed out that the appointment of a menteri besar would be held based on the state constitution and not made to fulfill the interest of a particular individual or party.
“The decision that I will make later is in the name of the rakyat,” His Highness said at the ceremony, realising that the people were restless because the position of the state’s chief executive had still not been filled.
Eventually, Datuk Seri Azlan Man, the Assemblyman for Bintong was today reappointed as Menteri Besar at a swearing-in ceremony before Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin, after the people had waited for 15 days giving the impression that the crisis had ended.
But a major question came up again when nine BN Assemblymen were not present at the ceremony, which angered Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin although the invitation had been made two days earlier and the absent Assemblymen were reported to be in Kuala Lumpur to meet with Shahidan.
Shahidan later in the afternoon held a media conference in Kuala Lumpur, attended by the nine Assemblymen to demonstrate their protest on the appointment of Azlan for the second term.
Stating that Azlan should not be holding the position as he did not get the majority support, Shahidan told the press conference that he and the other Assemblymen requested to be given the opportunity to serve the people of Perlis who allegedly were waiting for their services.
In the press conference where Shahidan was busily explaining to the media representatives the situation in Perlis, he also appealed to the Raja of Perlis, Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Putra Jamalullail, to refrain from interfering in the appointment of the Menteri Besar.
Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin, in his speech after the ceremony expressed his displeasure at the political situation brewing in the state.
The Ruler said that as of yesterday, two names had been shortlisted for appointment as the Menteri Besar, namely Azlan and Shahidan’s younger brother, Datuk Ismail Kassim.
However, he was not happy about appointing Ismail as he did not want to choose a Menteri Besar who would be a puppet and controlled by an ‘external power’.
His Highness said that the individual appointed as the Menteri Besar swore to keep official secrets and if Ismail were to be appointed as the Menteri Besar, the Ruler feared that he would leak the secret to his elder brother, Shahidan.
Reporters in Kangar were ready to meet Azlan, a former Administrative and Diplomatic Service Officer who had once served in Wisma Putra before contesting for the first time in the 13th General Election, but were disappointed because he did not want to issue any statement today in view of the latest development.
Constitutional expert Prof Madya Dr Shamrahayu Abdul Aziz, when commenting on he issue, said Azlan’s appointment was legally valid because the Raja of Perlis had given his consent to the appointment and that Azlan had already been sworn-in.
“The appointment (of the menteri besar) was the right of the Ruler and Tuanku had given his consent to the appointment of Azlan. If there are those who disagreed, they must prove that Azlan had no support through a vote of no confidence,” she said.
At the GE14 on May 9, BN won 10 of the 15 State Assembly seats to form the government on a two-thirds majority. – BERNAMA