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Archive for April 2008

Tremors in Terengganu Leadership

If you are familiar with the sequence of events in the Terengganu MB crisis a fortnight ago, then by all means watch the video below. Its a humorous summary of the events, to the tune of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” 🙂

If you are not familiar with the events, then please read this whole post first otherwise the video won’t make a lick of sense.

The Drama Begins

The 2008 elections resulted in BN comfortably retaining the Terengganu state by winning 24 out of 32 state seats. Idris Jusoh (State Assemblyman – Jertih) was expected to continue on as Chief Minister but his swearing-in ceremony on March 10th was unexpectedly postponed by the palace.

On March 15th the Terengganu Regency Advisory Council called for a meeting with 23 of the BN State Assemblymen – Idris was not invited. Though the meeting was cancelled at the last minute, the non-invitation of Idris strongly implied that the palace was going to choose someone else as Chief Minister.

Malaysiakini cited sources claiming that the Sultan of Terengganu (our present King) was unhappy with Idris for various reasons:

  • The shooting incident at Batu Burok on September 8th, 2007
  • The cocky attitude shown by Idris during his tenure as Chief Minister – disrespectful towards the Sultan
  • The strong measures used by police on polling day to disperse PAS supporters in Rusila, Marang
  • Grassroots UMNO members being unhappy with Idris

Constitutional Clarification

By March 19th it was safe to assume that Kijal Assemblyman and Kemaman UMNO division chief Ahmad Said was the preferred choice of the Terengganu palace. Idris Jusoh however had the public support of the Prime Minister and the other 22 BN Assemblymen.

The Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, stated:

… that the federal constitution does not grant the sultan as the sitting Yang di-Pertuan Agong the right to nominate anyone for the menteri besar post.

… that the candidate appointed as the menteri besar was not the nominee of the regent or the Regency Advisory Council but a person who was appointed according to the laws of the state.

… that the state constitution stated that the menteri besar appointee must be a person who is a member of the state legislative assembly who commanded majority support in the assembly.

…that the sultan was fully aware of the provision and that he cannot interfere in the appointment of the menteri besar.

This is because under Article 34(1) of the Federal Constitution, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong cannot function as a ruler of a state except as the head of the Islamic religion.

In connection with this, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong does not have his own candidate for the post (menteri besar of Terengganu).

– quoted from an article published in Malaysiakini on March 19th 2008 (link)

I checked what the Attorney-General said and he is right – once a Sultan becomes an Agong he no longer does his ‘Ruler’ duties, so any such duty is then relegated to a Regent/Regent Advisory Council.

34. Disabilities of Yang di-Pertuan Agong, etc.

(1) The Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall not exercise his functions as Ruler of his State except those of Head of the religion of Islam.

Eighth Schedule (Article 71)

The Executive Council

2. (2) (a) the Ruler shall appoint as Menteri Besar to preside over the Executive Council a member of the Legislative Assembly who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the Assembly

– Federal Constitution

It could be argued however that only the official appointment is to be done by the Regent, and the Sultan is free to decide who gets to be Menteri Besar, or at least reject candidates that he does not find suitable. Given the public support of the 22 State Assembly members for Idris, Ahmad Said does look like an unconstitutional choice.

Bellicose Masters and Cohorts

The palace announced their choice of Ahmad Said as Chief Minister on March 22nd. The other BN Assemblymen immediately responded by stating that they would not accept anyone but Idris Jusoh. Some even stated they would vacate their seats to force by-elections if Idris was not appointed – very bold words indeed.

UMNO Secretary-General Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor also stated that disciplinary action would be taken against Ahmad if he went ahead with the swearing-in. In fact that very night the state leadership decided to sack Ahmad Said if he was sworn-in as Chief Minister.

Ahmad Said was given his letter of appointment on March 23rd.Amusingly enough the other BN Assemblymen were not able to boycott the ceremony because they weren’t even invited, though they did show up at the palace to deliver a letter of protest.

Idris’s public support had now grown to 22 State Assemblymen, 4/8 UMNO divisions, 5 MPs and the PM. Ahmad Said on the other hand stated that he had the support of 7/8 UMNO divisions, though there was no public show of it so he appeared to stand alone.

UMNO supreme council member Rais Yatim stated that if Ahmad Said were to convene a state assembly meeting, the others would table a vote of no-confidence and he would fall like a rotten nangka (jackfruit).

The Prime Minister even said that Ahmad Said’s appointment as Chief Minister was unconstitutional! Small wonder then that Idris made the following sarcastic remark on RTM1, “I have the backing of the prime minister, the deputy prime minister, the state BN representatives and the people of Terengganu but the palace wants him”.

This is why I used the term bellicose – so much public hostility towards Ahmad Said and in so doing, bad PR for UMNO.

Past and Future Apologies

Idris Jusoh held a press conference on March 25th to inform the public that he had tendered a general apology to the Sultan on February 23rd. He stated that he was prepared to apologise to the Sultan if he had done anything wrong. Additionally, he said that Ahmad Said’s appointment was unconstitutional and unlawful.

Flip-flops Anyone?

The Prime Minister met the Sultan on March 26th after which he suddenly reversed his decision to support Idris – he now publicly backed Ahmad Said and stated that ‘his appointment was constitutional’.

With their leader turned around 180 degrees, the BN Assemblymen had to follow suit and flip as well – suddenly none were opposed to Ahmad Said. The swearing-in ceremony was held on March 30th, bringing this long drama to an end with a much publicised reconciliatory hug between Ahmad Said and Idris Jusoh.

No sacking from UMNO.

No attempt to take legal steps to remove Ahmad Said from office.
Despite all the threats and lack of support, Ahmad Said pulled through in the end.

This whole fiasco has only shown that UMNO ‘leaders’ viz. the State Assemblymen are forced to follow the leaders above them, rather than make decisions on their own. Who wants leaders that lack free will? How will Ahmad Said work with these people who took strong measures to block his ascension to the post of Chief Minister? We will just have to wait and see.

Now that you know the story, here is the video again. Enjoy!

References:

Malaysiakini
Sultan Terengganu next to snub PM? (link)
Terengganu: Stalemate continues on Idris’ appointment (link)
T’ganu MB: Palace appoints Ahmad Said, boycott looms (link)
MB Crisis deepens in Terengganu (link)
Idris apologises to sultan (link)
T’ganu MB: Abdullah backs down? (link)
Ahmad Said finally sworn in as T’gganu MB (link)

NST
Storm brewing in the east (link)
Abdullah says Idris should be menteri besar (link)
22 reps, 5 MPs and 4 divisions back Idris (link)
He says he has support (link)
Dead end for Ahmad Said, so says Rais (link)
Idris to ‘accept any decision’ (link)
Appointment followed state constitution (link)
Ahmad ‘best decision for Terengganu’ (link)

Written by ak57

April 7, 2008 at 4:47 am