Prayers as faithful gather at MB’s house in Pakatan’s last stand

UPDATED 8.55pm

By Shannon Teoh, Adib Zalkapli and Lee Wei Lian (The Malaysian Insider)

IPOH, Feb 5 — Shouts of Allahuakbar rang out amid a light drizzle at the Perak mentri besar’s residence here as more than 1,000 Pakatan Rakyat (PR) supporters turned up for a public rally in support of the embattled Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin’s administration.

But despite accusing the Barisan Nasional (BN) of executing a coup, the loss of the state government looks to be a fait accompli as Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir, the BN assemblyman for Pangkor, is already preparing to be sworn in tomorrow at 3.30pm in Kuala Kangsar

The situation remains tense here as police have taken control of the state secretariat, while Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin remains holed up at his official residence with other PR party leaders.

Nizar has refused to resign, claiming he is still the legitimate chief executive in the state.

A public rally has been planned tonight at the residence to show support for Nizar’s administration.

Former de facto Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim and prominent blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin have also turned up to show their support

Earlier, PR leaders said they planned to seek an audience with the state ruler in order to persuade him to change his mind about not dissolving the state assembly.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the PR alliance of Pas, PKR and DAP fully supported Nizar, and wanted the matter “returned to the court of the people”.

“BN has twisted it as if we are committing treason. But we are merely pleading.

“The leadership council of Pakatan will seek an audience with the Sultan,” he told reporters.

Tonight’s planned rally is meant to show public support for the state assembly to be dissolved.

But it is unclear how PR leaders can pull off a mammoth rally as police have blocked off many access roads.

Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Musa Hassan said police will take firm action against those involved in illegal gatherings or demonstrations in Perak following political uncertainty in the state.

“I hope party supporters will not stage gathering as they only inconvenience the people and disturb public order. Party leaders should calm the supporters and advise them not to break the law,” he told Bernama here today.

It is understood that officials from the state secretariat and the police have been trying to get Nizar and his state executive council to vacate the official MB’s residence, but have so far failed.

Earlier, Sultan Azlan Shah announced his refusal to give his consent for the dissolution of the Perak state assembly, and asked Nizar to resign in a statement carried by national news agency Bernama.

And if Nizar refused to resign, the post would be declared vacant.

This has paved the way for BN to form the next state government.

The office of the Sultan of Perak, in a statement, said that after meeting all the 28 BN assemblymen and the three independents, the Sultan was convinced that Nizar had ceased to command the confidence of the majority of the state assembly members.

“If YAB Datuk Seri Ir Mohammad Nizar bin Jamaluddin does not resign his post as Perak menteri besar together with the members of the state executive council, the posts of menteri besar and state executive councillors are considered vacant,” the statement said.

It is understood that a candidate for the MB’s position has already been proposed to the Sultan, who has given his approval.

This evening Umno president and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi had a short audience with the Sultan but it is unclear what was discussed.

This morning, the Sultan concluded a busy morning of talks with both Nizar and Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Najib Razak in a bid to break the political impasse in the state.

He met Najib twice before summoning Nizar to his palace as well.

In his second audience with the Sultan, Najib brought along the 28 BN state legislators and the three independents backing the coalition to see the Ruler to make his case for a new government.

When he met Nizar, the Sultan asked Nizar to resign, to which the MB said he would not.

“The Sultan told me that BN has 31 to 28 but I told him that was inaccurate as three have vacated their seats.

“I asked for consent to dissolve to protect the rights of the people,” Nizar told reporters at the official residence of the MB here.