Perlis MB dispute drags on with no end in sight

Perlis Umno secretary Zahidi Zainul Abidin (centre) speaking to reporters today in Kangar, accompanied by eight of the nine Barisan Nasional assemblymen who opposed Azlan Man as MB.

KANGAR: The Perlis menteri besar impasse shows no signs of ending soon, with nine Barisan Nasional (BN) assemblymen standing firm on their opposition to Azlan Man who was sworn in as MB on May 24.

A press conference held by Umno today offered no solution except to announce that Azlan’s opponents would seek an audience with Perlis Raja Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamallulail to apologise for the “misunderstanding” over the MB dispute.

However, Perlis Umno secretary Zahidi Zainul Abidin told reporters the nine assemblymen maintained their stand to reject Azlan as MB.

He claimed their decision had been conveyed to the top leaders of Umno, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Hishammuddin Hussein, but was evasive on whether it had received the blessings of the duo.

“Yes, we have met both Zahid and Hisham. We informed them of the decision, and the practice is that any decision made by the state liaison committee will be accepted by the top leadership,” he said.

Zahidi’s remarks contradicted a statement by Zahid, who is Umno vice-president performing the duties of the president since the resignation of Najib Razak.

Zahid was reported by The Star as having said the BN 9 would apologise and pledge their loyalty to the Perlis ruler to end the MB crisis.

Zahid also said Perlis Umno chief Shahidan Kassim, who is also Arau MP, did not have a say on the issue.

“Shahidan is not an assemblyman and he can’t make decisions for the nine assemblymen.

“The impasse is over and the nine assemblymen have agreed to pledge loyalty to Tuanku and support Menteri Besar Azlan Man,” Zahid was reported as saying.

Asked when the BN 9 will have an audience with the ruler, Zahidi said they will send a letter and wait for a response from Istana Arau.

“We hope to have a heart-to-heart talk with Tuanku. This is to prevent any misunderstanding on the Tuanku’s side. We are doing this out of respect for the ruler.

“We all love the people. The problem is we do not want Azlan Man. We are not u-turning. We hope that when we meet with Tuanku, he will understand.

“The problem is we have not met him and explained, so he might not understand the real situation. We are doing this for the rakyat,” he said.

On why they were adamant against Azlan as MB, Zahidi said they had many reasons, which they would convey to the Perlis ruler at their meeting.

He said it was not right for them to reveal the reasons to the press beforehand.

On what would be their next move should the ruler still insist on having Azlan as MB, Zahidi merely repeated that they would first explain to him and hoped he would understand their view.

“He knows democracy. He is a wise ruler,” Zahidi said.

He dodged a question on whether their decision to not support Azlan amounted to a clash with the ruler, stating that this was why they wanted to have an audience with him to make him understand.

“We want a meeting again (since the last one-on-one meeting the ruler had with the assemblymen). We are afraid there may be those who are trying to manipulate the situation,” he said.

Despite Azlan’s swearing in as MB last week, Perlis remains the only state without a government in place since the May 9 general election, as the state executive council has yet to be formed.

BN secured a two-thirds majority in the northern state, winning 10 out of the assembly’s 15 seats.

Pakatan Harapan (PH) won three state seats (Kuala Perlis, Sena and Indera Kayangan) while PAS took the remaining two of Sanglang and Guar Sanji.

Zahidi had said previously that BN submitted to the ruler 11 names as MB candidates, which included himself and Shahidan.