January 21, 2016
Mukhriz Mahathir–The Remote Control Menteri Besar, Kedah Darul Aman
Dato’ Seri Mukhriz Mahathir’s failure to bring about change, and his poor ties with UMNO warlords in Kedah, are among the reasons they now want him out as the Menteri Besar, say party leaders and observers.
The administration under him also lost focus because Mukhriz spent too much time in Kuala Lumpur and could not provide the leadership needed to run the state effectively, they said. As such, they said UMNO warlords feared the state was ripe for the opposition’s picking at the next general election due in 2018.
UMNO liaison secretary, Datuk Othman Aziz told The Malaysian Insider that two years after the last general election, many promises in the manifesto remained unfulfilled.
“We have to do a lot of things which we promised to the people in our manifesto.The promises have been raised by the opposition in the past. After two years of UMNO leadership in the state, the opposition concluded that we have not achieved much. We are worried this failure will be played up by the opposition at the next polls and this is going to cost Umno,” said Othman, who the Jerlun MP.
He said the people and state UMNO leaders had high hopes that Mukhriz would develop the state and improve the quality of life, but this was not achieved.
“People had high expectations of him, he had an aura about him and we hoped we could make up for the five years that was lost during PAS rule of the state.We hoped we could achieve something big under him but it did not happen,” he said, adding that the administration lost focus as Mukhriz spent too much time in Kuala Lumpur.
“Everyone at the press conference just now want to move forward and fear if nothing is done about the state of affairs, we will not be ready for the next general election,” he said, referring to the press conference yesterday by 14 Umno division chiefs, assemblymen and MPs who urged the party leadership to remove Mukhriz as Menteri Besar.
Othman added that Mukhriz’s function as state liaison chief was no longer tenable. “In UMNO’s structure, the liaison head is appointed by the Prime Minister as the UMNO President, but the appointment is supported by the divisions in the state. So if the divisions no longer support you, you no longer can function, it is as simple as that,” he said, referring to Mukhriz’s position as Kedah Umno liasion chief.
Former Pokok Sena UMNO division secretary, Ramli Yunus, said Mukhriz failed to develop and maintain good working relations with the division chiefs. “I feel he has failed to work with them. If he had, it would be impossible for 14 division chiefs to come out, seeking his ouster,” Ramli said.
Othman, who had given way to Mukhriz to become the Jerlun division chief at the last party election, said deputy state liaison chairman Dato’ Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah was the most suitable candidate to replace Mukhriz as menteri besar.
“We have to pick from the existing field of leaders. I feel it would be Ahmad Bashah. Ahmad Bashah is a grassroots man and savvy in the way of village politics,” he said.
Universiti Utara Malaysia academic Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani said the latest development could be traced to Mukhriz’s failure to engage UMNO warlords in the state. “This clash started at the last general election when there was a last minute change in candidates. Rightly, Ahmad Bashah should have been appointed MB but Mukhriz was appointed.This in turn triggered unhappiness among the state’s warlords when many were sidelined by Mukhriz,” he said.
Azizuddin said party warlords saw a window of opportunity when Mukhriz’s father Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad started attacking UMNO President and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. “They too launched their attacks against Mukhriz,” he said.
But he cautioned that it was too early to predict if Mukhriz would be removed as Menteri Besar, as it must get the consent of the Sultan. “At best, Najib can remove Mukhriz as Kedah state liasion chairman but not Menteri Besar.There are many stages to go. It would be different if Mukhriz chooses to fight back. That would complicate matters,” Azizuddin added.
Meanwhile, several Kedah UMNO leaders contacted by The Malaysian Insider declined to comment on the current crisis.Among them were Langkawi MP Dato’ Nawawi Ahmad, Guar Chempedak assemblyman Dato’ Ku Abd Rahman Ku Ismail and Kubang Pasu MP and Deputy Defence Minister Dato’ Johari Baharom. “Leave it at what was said at the press conference,” Johari said.