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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Kedah Umno crisis: Who will replace Mukhriz?

KUALA LUMPUR - Four men have been named as possible candidates as the next Kedah mentri besar in the wake of an ongoing Umno leadership tussle in the northern state dubbed the rice bowl of Malaysia.

Kedah Umno deputy chairman Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah who led a revolt against state Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir last week is seen to be the frontrunner for the post, but Malay broadsheet Mingguan Malaysia reported today three others have emerged as potential contenders.

“The three names are Guar Chempedak assemblyman and state industry and investment, consumer affairs and cooperatives executive councillor Datuk Dr. Ku Rahman Ku Ismail, 63; Ayer Hangat assemblyman and state religion, Siamese community affairs, tourism and heritage, and works executive councillor Datuk Mohd. Rawi Abdul Hamid; and Tanjong Dawai assemblyman and state education, transport and local government and housing executive councillor Datuk Tajul Urus Mat Zain, 64.

“All three are said to be qualified for consideration based on their experience and educational background. Apart from that, this is seen as to assuage the anger of Kedahans after what’s happened,” an unnamed source was cited as saying by the Umno-linked weekend edition of Utusan Malaysia in its report.

In a news conference last Wednesday, Ahmad Bashah led a delegation comprising 15 Umno division chiefs, state and federal lawmakers who expressed loss of confidence in Mukhriz and called for his removal as mentri besar.

Among the reasons given for their discontent was Mukhriz’s purported failure to govern the state, to unite the party and his lack of strategy to face the next general elections due 2018.

According to the source, Ahmad Bashah is favoured to replace Mukhriz but the three other names were given to placate the latter’s supporters in the event of a leadership change.

Ahmad Bashah was state election chief who had wrested Kedah from PAS for the Barisan Nasional (BN) in Election 2013 and had been rumoured would become its mentri besar then.

However, the political rumour mill has it that the deputy minister of domestic trade, cooperatives and consumerism was sacrificed when Mukhriz was chosen.

According to the Utusan source however, Ku Rahman, an “old timer” in Kedah politics is a potential choice as MB too as he is seen as a “leader without too many controversies”, in addition to his past role as team leader in drawing in foreign investment into the state.

Tajul Urus, a Universiti Sains Malaysia graduate is seen as a “Mukhriz man”, according to the source.

“Apart from that, he is seen as capable of continuing Mukhriz’s agendo to develop education in Kedah,” the source was quoted saying.

Langkawi-born Mohd Rawi is seen as a leader who is closest to the people of Kedah, especially among the clerics and Muslim religious students.

“He has a degree from the International Islamic University of Malaysia and is among the most vocal on religious issues in Kedah and is seen to be capable of drawing the people’s attention based on his religious background,” the source told Mingguan Malaysia.

Both Mukhriz and Ahmad Bashah have met with Datuk Seri Najib Razak separately since the leadership tussle exploded Wednesday, but the Umno president and prime minister have yet to announce any decision on the matter.

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