IPOH, Nov 29 ― Controversy seems to have surrounded the mentri besar of Perak from the very start but political analysts believe Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu’s position will likely stay unchanged for now.
This is because his hold on the state’s top post is anchored by the support of Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) top leadership.
Still, there seems to be clear unhappiness among some of the PH allies, who at times, have openly criticised his performance and way of governance, and have at some point even urged him to step down.
Not PH’s MB?
Teh Boon Teck, a political analyst from Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, said that a certain percentage of the PH component parties are not satisfied with Ahmad Faizal being appointed as mentri besar despite having a tiny majority in the state.
“In Perak, it is a known fact that DAP wanted Aziz Bari to be in that post while Amanah wanted either Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin or Asmuni Awi as the mentri besar. These parties have majority seats,” he said.
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia geostrategist Prof Dr Azmi Hassan also said that both DAP and Amanah were gunning for the Perak MB post pre-GE14.
“There have been numerous strategies by PH allies to get the MB post. These covert and sometimes open incidents are what made Ahmad Faizal’s tenure as the MB seem always full of controversies,” he explained.
Azmi said the negative impact of these incidents not only puts PH in an awkward position, but has also affected the governing of Perak.
Singapore Institute of International Affairs senior fellow Oh Ei Sun said there are microscopic and macroscopic dimensions to Ahmad Faizal's controversy.
“Microscopically, Ahmad Faizal is perhaps lacking in both charismatic appeal and real clout of power as his party has the smallest number of seats in the state assembly,” he said.
“Macroscopically, Ahmad Faizal and his party’s predicaments in the Perak ruling coalition is reflective of PPBM’s dilemma in the national coalition.
“PPBM is likely to try their best to preserve Ahmad Faizal’s position so as not to jeopardise their national position by association,” he added.
Meanwhile, political analyst Ahmad Atory Hussain said that Ahmad Faizal’s policies are not in-line with other PH component parties, which is also a cause for dissatisfaction among the coalition in Perak.
Issues and decisions by Ahmad Faizal that have caused unhappiness among PH allies include the failure to grant 999-year ownership status or permanent land ownership to new villages as requested by DAP, who made the pledge in the PH manifesto during the 14th general election.
His move to dissolve of 13 PPBM divisional committees in Perak has been alleged to be motivated by crony interests.
The Perak MB’s move to allow Paul Yong, a DAP state executive councillor accused of rape, to return to work pending the outcome of his trial has also angered the DAP.
Just before the Tanjung Piai by-election, there was a leaked video of him lamenting fighting a “lone battle against DAP” during the Tanjung Piai by-election. This in turn strained ties between DAP and Bersatu in the lead-up to the poll.
Ahmad Faizal’s state administration has also been accused of awarding a maintenance contract worth RM1.15 billion under the Malaysian Road Records Information System (Marris) fund to a company without an open tender.
The Perak state government’s delay in the appointment of local council members from PKR in a few places has also upset the PH component party.
Which PH allies have spoken out against him?
On February 17, affected PPBM divisions rejected their committees’ dissolution and demanded Ahmad Faizal resign as the state chairman as they claimed he had failed to carry out his duties properly.
On November 8, Perak PKR chief Farhash Wafa Salvador said Ahmad Faizal is not qualified to be a mentri besar if he thinks DAP is the enemy of the state, following the viral video of him lamenting fighting a “lone battle” with DAP.
On November 20, pro-PKR group Pertubuhan Rangkaian Organisasi (PRO) 98 Reformis Perak accused Ahmad Faizal of cronyism and incompetence in governing the state and demanded that he step down.
However, despite this, Ahmad Atory believes that there would not be any revolt against the mentri besar as long Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad, who is the PH and PPBM chairman, is the prime minister.
“As long as Mahathir is still in power, those who aspire to take the mentri besar post from Ahmad Faizal have to wait for a while until the prime minister retires,” he said.
Teh also believes there won’t be a revolt “as it will only make the people think that PH leaders are putting more effort into fighting for power instead of taking care of the people's welfare.”
Meanwhile, Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Sivamurugan Pandian said that Ahmad Faizal has managed to control the situation and the majority are still behind him even though many think this is not static support.
“Even though it is difficult to run the state with a simple majority, Ahmad Faizal has a good way of communicating with other leaders, including various coalition members and the Opposition as well. This is why he is still the mentri besar,” he said.