IPOH: THE question of who will be Perak’s 14th menteri besar may very well be answered today.
The Perak political scene has been thrown into turmoil following the ouster of Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu as the menteri besar last Friday after he failed to muster enough support during a vote of confidence at the state legislative assembly.
However, despite questions over the composition of the new state government and how it will accommodate personalities from Umno, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and the opposition, it appears that a decision on who will be the next menteri besar may have already been made.
Insiders told the New Straits Times that the processes are already in place for the announcement of the new menteri besar as well as the swearing-in ceremony, which could possibly take place as early as today.
While several names have been bandied about as possible candidates, insiders suggest that Perak Umno chief Datuk Saarani Mohamad has emerged as the front-runner for the coveted post.
Rungkup assemblyman Datuk Shahrul Zaman Yahya, touted to also be a candidate for the position, yesterday conceded that Perak Umno and Barisan Nasional members had reached a consensus and agreed to nominate Saarani for the post.
“Umno and BN have agreed to nominate Saarani as Perak menteri besar,” he said in a post, urging everyone to let Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah have the final say on the matter.
Shahrul, in his post, appeared to have alluded to defeat in the bid to become menteri besar, saying that Muslims must always believe in qada’ and qadar (fate and destiny).
“Everything has been written. A position is a responsibility. We need to go back to basics. We are here to serve the rakyat in any capacity we can,” he wrote.
A source within Perak Umno backed the claim, disclosing that 26 state assemblymen had signed a statutory declaration (SD) supporting Saarani to become menteri besar.
It is learnt that Perak Umno had also managed to convince an assemblyman from Bersatu to sign the SD.
The Perak legislative assembly comprises 25 Umno assemblymen, DAP (16), Bersatu (5), Amanah (5), PKR (3), Pas (3), one Gerakan and one Independent.
With the support of 30 assemblymen being required to secure a simple majority, it is understood that negotiations with all quarters have reached a consensus on support.
Insiders believe that the relatively speedy conclusion to the political turmoil was also attributed to the need to table the state’s 2021 Budget, which was scheduled for last Friday.
The Perak government has until tomorrow to table the budget.
Speculation was also rife that Bersatu, following the ouster of Faizal as menteri besar, had maintained that it would only work with Umno if Shahrul, and not Saarani, becomes the new menteri besar.
Observers believe that Bersatu had attributed Faizal’s downfall to Saarani and thus, had placed a condition that it wanted Shahrul as the new menteri besar.
This was denied yesterday by a senior Perak Bersatu leader, who said no terms were set.
“No. No syarat (condition),” the Bersatu leader briefly said via WhatsApp.
Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who said the party would submit the names of potential candidates to Sultan Nazrin, was scheduled to have an audience with the Ruler today.
An Umno Supreme Council meeting last night at the party’s headquarters, also attended by Saarani, was believed to have been convened to iron out final issues related to the appointment.
A Perak Umno source told the NST that Saarani, 62, had the party’s backing as the new Perak menteri besar due to his vast experience in state administration matters.
Saarani had served as state executive councillor under three menteris besar, namely Tan Sri Tajol Rosli Ghazali, Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir as well as Faizal.
“He has served as an executive councillor since 2004. He usually holds the Rural Development, Plantation and Agriculture portfolio, which is key to the state’s economic development.
“He understands how the state administration works,” said the source.
Saarani’s 16 years in the political arena, said the source, had also earned him the confidence of Perak Umno members.
“He’s also well-respected by those from other political parties as they regard him as a veteran. Being a former teacher, he’s also known for his frank yet salt-of-the-earth demeanour.”
Meanwhile, Saarani told NST that Perak Umno was willing to cooperate with both Bersatu and Pas under the Perikatan Nasional coalition.
He also confirmed that he would be attending the Umno Supreme Council meeting, chaired by Zahid.
The Perak political crisis unfolded last Friday when Faizal, who is also Bersatu deputy president, failed to garner the necessary support after a motion of confidence was tabled during the state legislative assembly sitting.
The motion was tabled by Datuk Abd Manap Hashim (BN-Pengkalan Baru).
However, Faizal only managed to garner 10 votes. A total of 48 assemblymen voted against him with another abstaining.
He announced his resignation the following day. The resignation was accepted by Sultan Nazrin on Sunday.