Tuesday, May 13, 2014



Three Umno assemblymen in Terengganu have quit the party to become independent assemblymen, which could possibly leave the state with a hung state legislative assembly.

Former Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said, who is Kijal assemblyman, was the first to quit followed by Ajil assemblyman, Ghazali Taib, and Bukit Besi assemblyman, Roslee Daud, who all quit the party last night just hours after Seberang Takir assemblyman, Datuk Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman, was sworn in as the new Mentri Besar of Terengganu.

Ahmad Said came in as Menteri Besar in 2008 amongst a lot of controversy. Idris Jusoh was still quite popular at that time but His Highness the Sultan wanted Ahmad Said over Idris Jusoh so Umno had no choice but to relent and agree to the change of Menteri Besar (but not before a most controversial and first ever anti-Sultan demonstration was held).

In the May 2013 general election, Barisan Nasional won only 17 of the 32 state seats against 15 that Pakatan Rakyat won. Out of the eight Parliament seats, PAS won four (Kuala Nerus, Kuala Terengganu, Marang and Dungun) and Umno also won four (Besut, Setiu, Hulu Terengganu and Kemaman).

This means it was a 50:50 situation and PAS is very confident that in the next general election they can maintain the 50:50 situation for Parliament seats and reverse the 15:17 loss to a 17:15 win, or maybe even better.

Ahmad Said has attracted further controversy along the way after spending more than RM1 billion on the Sultan’s new palace in Cendering. It was not so much the palace that was the issue but the manner in which the more than RM1 billion was spent.

For example, the palace front door itself was rumoured to have cost RM500,000 and was awarded on a negotiated contract basis. Hence there was no transparency in the managing of this project and no one knows how the money was spent.

Recently, Terengganu spent RM25 million to buy an interest in a chicken franchise in the United Kingdom called Chicken Cottage (Read here: The business community in the UK says that the state overpaid by RM10 million.

All these controversies do not augur well for Umno and this may help prove PAS correct that it can win the state in the coming general election if Ahmad Said continues to head the state. Hence Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has no choice but to change the Menteri Besar before the Terengganu voters decide to change the government.

Anyway, it was agreed that Ahmad Said would stay on as Menteri Besar for just another year after the May 2013 general election. Ahmad Said knew that he would be replaced within a year and he had agreed to it. The only issue that Ahmad Said raised is that he wanted the Prime Minister to delay this replacement until after his daughter’s wedding this weekend. And when the Prime Minister did not agree Ahmad Said decided to trigger the current crisis in Terengganu.

That, unfortunately, is the level of party loyalty Ahmad Said has demonstrated. He has placed his personal interests above the interests of the party. Maybe it is good that this happens now rather than closer to the coming general election. And Ahmad Said’s action just proves that the Prime Minister did the right thing in replacing him.

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