Politics Translation Weirdness

BN won in Perlis, but its new Menteri Besar is Independent. How does that work?

[Artikel ini asalnya ditulis oleh member-member kami kat Soscili. Kalau nak baca artikel ni dalam BM, klik sini!]

If there is a list of the fastest Malaysian states to form a government after the GE14, Perlis probably won’t be on that list. Their Menteri Besar (MB) was appointed two weeks after the GE14 results came out, and the person appointed was Datuk Seri Azlan Man, state assemblyman for Bintong, making this his second term as Menteri Besar.

Azlan Man, during the swearing in. Img from Berita Harian.

Azlan Man, during the swearing in. Img from Berita Harian.

But barely half a day after Azlan swore in, he was sacked from UMNO. The announcement came from the Perlis UMNO Liason Committee Chairman, Datuk Seri Dr Shahidan Kassim.

Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is now UMNO President, as well as Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, his Deputy, had been informed of the firing.” – Datuk Seri Dr Shahidan Kassim, translated from Harian Metro.

In a statement, Shahidan stated that Azlan is now an independent Menteri Besar. This development marked the beginning of a political crisis in Perlis, but before we get any further, it’s helpful to know where it all began.

 

Previously, Perlis BN nominated Shahidan Kassim’s younger brother as Menteri Besar

Ismail Kassim (center, white shirt) campaigning for his brother, Shahidan Kassim. Img from Malay Mail.

Ismail Kassim (center, white shirt) campaigning for his brother, Shahidan Kassim. Img from Malay Mail.

In the last GE, BN won 10 out of 15 Perlis state seats, giving them the right to govern Perlis through majority. So once they’ve won the state, the next step would be to choose a party member to become the next Menteri Besar.

According to a report, Perlis BN had already named Tambun Tulang’s state assemblyman Datuk Ismail Kassim as Menteri Besar. Ismail Kassim, in case you missed the second part of his name, is the younger brother of Perlis UMNO’s Chairman, Shahidan Kassim. Shahidan had vouched for his brother, saying that he can become a good leader and that Ismail had the full support of other Perlis BN assemblymen.

Ismail's career had once been associated with nepotism back in 1998. Img from Imgflip.

Ismail’s career had once been associated with nepotism back in 1998. Img from Imgflip.

However, things did not sail smoothly for them, as the one with the actual power to appoint the next MB is the Raja Perlis: Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Jamalullail. One day before Shahidan announced Ismail’s name as MB-to-be, the Raja had said he needed more time to consider before appointing a MB, as he did not recognize the name given to him.

“Following that, 10 BN state assemblymen including Azlan and Ismail was summoned to see the Raja Perlis last Wednesday, to facilitate His Majesty in knowing each state assemblymen better.” – Excerpt translated from Berita Harian.

 

The Raja Perlis did not want to appoint a possible puppet as MB

Hishamuddin and Zahid Hamidi, returning from a meeting with the King of Perlislast Tuesday. Img from Kosmo!

Hishamuddin and Zahid Hamidi, returning from a meeting with the King of Perlislast Tuesday. Img from Kosmo!

After several meetings with the Raja Perlis (even UMNO’s president and deputy went to Perlis for this), it was finally announced that the Raja had chosen Azlan Man as Perlis MB again. It was noted that Azlan had been in the Raja’s good graces, and he was often seen with the Raja in most events and functions they attended.

“Even when nine Barisan Nasional (BN) assemblymen went missing after the conclusion of the last GE14, Azlan remained the only BN state assemblymen to be at the Raja Perlis’s side at the closing ceremony of the 5th series of the Perkampungan Sunnah, at Masjid Alwi, on the 13th of May.” – Translated excerpt from Berita Harian.

Despite having the Raja’s favor, Azlan had been rejected fully by the remaining 9 BN assemblymen. This became apparent when none of them showed up at the swearing in ceremony, invoking the Raja Perlis’s wrath. The Raja had expressed his disappointment in the matter, as invitations had been sent out two days before the ceremony.

“They are now in Kuala Lumpur, having boarded a plane yesterday… this is from what I’ve heard.” – Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Putra Jamalullail, translated from Berita Harian.

His Majesty was A N G E R Y. Img from Astro Awani.

His Majesty was A N G E R Y. Img from Astro Awani.

According to His Majesty, up until the night before the swearing in took place, he was still torn between the two candidates. One of them had been the MB before, and the Raja wanted him to continue with the planned developments for the people’s sake. The other one have ties to Perlis UMNO’s Liaison Committee’s Chairman.

“… when I met all the BN assemblymen, I can see that they’re more obedient to (UMNO’s leadership) in the state compared to the (leadership at the) federal level. It’s like they have a different grip… I was worried that I would make the wrong choice with Datuk Ismail Kassim… I was worried of appointing a Menteri Besar who will become a puppet,” – Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Putra Jamalullail, Raja Perlis. Excerpt translated from Berita Harian.

Shahidan had since asked for the Raja Perlis to stay out of the state’s government administration and had asked for the Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, to intervene in the appointment of the Menteri Besar.

“…Azlan Man was appointed without an appointment letter from BN, and the act of appointing someone who does not command majority support as Menteri Besar is unethical according to the constitution.” – Translated excerpt from Malaysiakini.

 

So can Azlan Man keep his Menteri Besar post?

Azlan Man (left) with Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Img from The Star.

Azlan Man (left) with Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Img from The Star.

Technically, Azlan is still the legitimate Menteri Besar of Perlis as he had been appointed by the Raja Perlis. But the problem now is that Azlan did not get the majority support from the other BN state assemblymen, who totally rejected him. SOSCILI spoke to Dr Hazmi Rusli, USIM’s law expert on the matter.

“…if he did not get the trust or confidence from a majority of the state assembly, there is a possibility he will be removed from the post of Menteri Besar, and there must be a replacement that gets the assembly’s confidence.” – Dr Hazmi Rusli, to SOSCILI.

Dr Hazmi further explained that in practice, for Azlan to be removed there has to be a vote of no confidence by Perlis’s assemblymen, and BN would have to nominate another candidate to the Raja Perlis to be considered.

Whoever the next Menteri Besar of Perlis is, they’ve got to buckle up, as…

 

Perlis’s economy could really use some help

The people of Perlis had since voiced their dissatisfaction over the whole fiasco, and since then the BN members who initially disagreed with the King’s choice had decided to go along with it and apologize to the Raja, but they still hope that His Majesty would reconsider. This drama is certainly something, but it does not change the fact that Perlis’s economy had not been profitable for the last few years.

The Auditor General’s report in 2016 had shown that Perlis’s position, money wise, had not been satisfactory. In that year, the state managed to collect RM109.93 million, but at the same time it spent RM196.96 million, almost double of what it made. And it’s not just a one-year thing, either…

Ah. Touched the bottom already. Img from Perlis State Audit Report, 2015.

Ah. Touched the bottom already. Img from Perlis State Audit Report, 2015.

Other areas notwithstanding, this proved that Perlis needs some serious help in getting back up economically. And since BN managed to form the state’s government, the manifesto that they offered to the people of Perlis before GE14 needs to be restructured and executed according to Perlis’s needs.

 

 

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