All eyes on Ali Rustam as Melaka awaits new head of state

Umno stalwart and former chief minister Ali Rustam is speculated to take over as Yang Dipertua Negeri from Mohd Khalil Yaakob, whose term of office ends on Thursday.

MELAKA: A new Yang Dipertua Negeri of Melaka will take office on Friday, and political observers believe the new head of state is likely to be Umno stalwart Mohd Ali Rustam, who was chief minister from 1999-2013.

Another name speculated for the position is Zahid Mat Arip, who was a political secretary to former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

However, a political source told FMT that Ali is the front-runner. Ali’s appointment could prove controversial as he and three others were once suspended by Umno for “money politics”.

The appointment of the new Yang Dipertua Negeri, commonly referred to as the governor, comes two months after PPBM quit the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition. A new state government was formed by the Perikatan Nasional coalition of Umno, PPBM, and two former PKR members.

Ali is believed to be close to Melaka PPBM’s deputy chairman Mohd Rafiq Naizamohideen, who is one of two PPBM assembly members.

The Chief Ministers’ Department announced today that the swearing-in ceremony of the new Yang Dipertua Negeri will be held at Balai Istiadat, Seri Negeri Complex in Ayer Keroh, at 10am on Friday.

The announcement did not state the name of the new Yang Dipertua Negeri.

At 11am, the current governor, Mohd Khalil Yaakob, whose term of office ends on Thursday, will hand over duties to the new head of state at the office of the Yang Dipertua Negeri.

Ali’s candidacy for the governorship came under criticism from the DAP last week. Kota Melaka MP Khoo Poay Tiong said the new Perikatan Nasional state government should come clean over rumours about Ali and Zahid.

“For the record, Ali Rustam and three of his agents were found guilty in 2009 by the disciplinary board of his own party, Umno, of money politics,” said Khoo. “Zahid Mat Arip was recently linked to the corruption case of Felda’s former chairman, Isa Samad.”

The Yang Dipertua Negeri is appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the state leadership. The role of the Yang Dipertua Negeri is largely ceremonial, although he has the final say in matters such as the dissolution of the state assembly as well as in granting pardons.

Khoo said candidates for the position should be nominated based on their capability and track record.

Fake or not? Check our quick fake news buster here.