Sunday March 23, 2008
Sultan's choice of MB stripped of Umno membership
By R.S.N. MURALI
KUALA TERENGGANU: Kijal assemblyman Datuk Ahmad Said, who was supposed to have been sworn in as Terengganu Mentri Besar Sunday, has been stripped of his Umno membership for disobeying the party's leadership, a state Umno official confirmed Sunday morning.
The office of the Sultan of Terengganu announced Saturday that Ahmad Said would be the new Mentri Besar of Terengganu instead of Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, ending 14 days of uncertainty.
The swearing-in ceremony was scheduled to have taken place at Istana Tamu at 10am today but was likely to have been boycotted by 22 state assemblymen who are supporting Idris, the former Mentri Besar. They were planning a protest walk from Seri Iman, the MB’s official residence, to Istana Tamu, about 500m away at 7.30am.
“In accordance with Clause 14 Paragraph (2) (a) of the Terengganu State Constitution (Chapter 2), the Regency Advisory Council, in undertaking the function on behalf of the Regent, hereby appoints Datuk Ahmad Said as the Mentri Besar of Terengganu to head the Terengganu State Executive Council,” said the palace statement released to Bernama at 3.30pm.
It is learnt that 51-year-old Ahmad, a former exco member in the Idris-led state government, had the support of seven of the eight Umno division leaders in the state who lobbied for his appointment at the last moment.
At 3pm Saturday, the state Umno Youth and Wanita wings held emergency meetings and unanimously pledged their support for Idris half an hour later.
All the assemblymen, except for Ahmad, gathered at Idris’ official residence here for a meeting at 5pm.
At 5.45pm, state Umno liaison secretary Datuk Rosol Wahid said the assemblymen who attended the meeting would boycott the swearing-in ceremony if Idris, who is also Terengganu Umno liaison chairman, was not appointed the Mentri Besar.
He said some of the elected representatives concerned were willing to resign if someone else was appointed Mentri Besar.
Rosol, who is the assemblyman for Ajil, also warned that the assemblymen concerned would pass a vote of no confidence at the State Legislative Assembly if Idris was not reappointed Mentri Besar.
He said the assemblymen concerned had signed a letter stating their support for Idris which would be forwarded to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the Terengganu Regency Advisory Council today.
Asked whether the move could be construed as an act of revolt, he said it was not because Idris had received the letter of appointment as Mentri Besar from the Prime Minister.
“We don’t believe it is an act of revolt because we unanimously represent the people and respect the decision of the (Umno) president. We were elected as the people’s representatives because we were appointed and given the mandate by the (Umno) president,” he said.
Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said in Putrajaya yesterday that Ahmad should obey the Umno president’s directive or face disciplinary action.
He said Ahmad should realise the consequences of his action should he go against the president’s decision.
On Friday, the 22 assemblymen sent a memorandum to the Prime Minister to retain Idris as the Mentri Besar after rumours spread that he may be dropped following the purported fallout between Idris and the palace.
State Umno Youth information chief Razali Idris said the wing hoped that there would be no change in the appointment of Mentri Besar.
“We have waited for a long time, 13 days is very long time in politics, Datuk Seri (Idris) has been patient all this while.
“If there are any changes, it should be done at a much earlier stage. Everyone waited for such a long time and we don’t want to hear any upsetting news now,” he said.
The standoff over the Mentri Besar’s post began soon after the last-minute postponement of the swearing-in ceremony scheduled for March 10.
Numerous meetings were held between the assemblymen and the Regency Advisory Council and the Prime Minister last week to find a solution to the problem.