A cloud of political uncertainty is hovering over Terengganu but the big question is whether Terengganu is walking down the corridors of a constitutional crisis similar to Perak.
Barisan Nasional’s slim majority in Terengganu received a jolt when the previous Menteri Besar stepped down and declared himself an independent state assemblyman, but falling short of giving his support to Pakatan Rakyat, the opposition coalition. Things became a notch more tumultuous when
two other state assemblymen also quit Umno to go independent, on the same note. The grapevine became rife that more were tempted to follow suit.
With 15 members each, this left Umno and Pakatan having equal representation in the state assembly. Umno had to go on immediate damage control mode and within hours one of the defected reps had been ‘cajoled’ to make a return. It’s a matter of time before the other two take the same about turn. Yet, the future is still too unpredictable in Terengganu.
With a very small margin to divide the ruling party from the opposition, the tenure of the new MB, as well as the longevity of Umno’s rule in Terengganu, will always be rocked by uncertainty. Pakatan, with the support of one or two rebel Umno reps, can always push for a motion of no confidence against the newly minted MB in the state assembly.
The pendulum may swing either way depending on how the remaining rebel Umno reps vote. If a no confidence vote is gained against the new MB, will the speaker declare that the new MB has lost the majority? Will he allow Pakatan to choose among them a new MB? Will this scenario also push Najib into a corner and demand his new MB to seek an audience with the Sultan to dissolve the state assembly and call for a snap state election?
On moral grounds, the most appropriate step to take is to immediately call for state polls – to allow the rakyat of Terengganu to decide their leader democratically, once and for all. But has Najib got the courage to do so under the current political and economic heat?
This is indeed an acid test for Najib’s administration, after just one year of holding the 13th general election. Going by the self proclaimed inroads made by the Barisan government in strengthening the nation in every aspect, Najib should have no worries about calling for a fresh state election. It seems like the only proper step to take. By the same political maturity that the Prime Minister often expects of the opposition and the Malaysian people, he should also be prepared to accept whatever the outcome in good spirit, and not cause another Perak in Terengganu.
The whole situation, however, smells too much like the Perak fiasco, with the winners once again being ‘independent candidates’. The most likely thing to happen now will be for Umno to dangle the expected carrot at them – just in time for the two ‘rebels’ to return to Umno’s fold. It is indeed a lucrative time to flex one’s ‘independent’ muscle.