Friday, January 22, 2016

When a Menteri Besar is removed

Salleh Said Keruak

The vote of no confidence against Kedah Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir on Wednesday is not really a major crisis or something that has never happened before. Only that maybe this time it is being given more prominence mainly because Mukhriz is the son of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the man who wants Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak ousted and has said so openly.

There are various reasons why a Menteri Besar or Chief Minister is replaced. In Johor Menteri Besar Abdul Ajib Ahmad’s case, it was because he openly opposed Dr Mahathir, the then Prime Minister. Dr Mahathir then replaced him with Muhyiddin Yassin in 1986.

In Nik Hassan Wan Abdul Rahman’s case, however, it was because he did not get along with the Terengganu Palace. So in 1974 Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein had to remove him as the Terengganu Menteri Besar and replace him with Dato Seri Amar Diraja Tan Sri Wan Mokhtar Ahmad.

Mohamed Ghazali Jawi, the Perak Menteri Besar, also clashed with the Sultan so in 1977 Prime Minister Tun Hussein Onn was forced to ask him to resign and Wan Mohamed Wan Teh took over as the new Perak Menteri Besar.

And this happened in all the other states as well, without exception. Either the Menteri Besar did not get along with the Palace, or he lost the confidence of his own party, or he openly clashed with the Prime Minister. And in all cases they had to be replaced.

And this did not just involve Umno or Barisan Nasional Menteri Besar. In Kelantan in 1977 the PAS Menteri Besar lost the confidence of his party and was forced out while in Selangor quite recently the PKR Menteri Besar suffered the same fate.

At the end of the day, whatever the case may be, the Prime Minister still has to listen to what the state party or the state Ruler wants. And if the Menteri Besar no longer commands the confidence of his own party or of the Palace then appropriate action needs to be taken.

The Prime Minister will, of course, have to first gather feedback before deciding what to do. So it is best that this matter be left in the hands of the Prime Minister. Whatever decision the Prime Minister makes will definitely be one that takes all opinions and matters into consideration. 

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