Kedah debacle spells trouble for Pakatan Rakyat

Bringing Mat Sabu to Kedah is one more headache for Azizan

Noor Adzman Baharuddin, New Straits Times

THESE are perilous times for Pas, specifically Kedah Pas. The past three weeks have been telling on the power struggle within the Islamist party in the state.

And there are no signs that the troubles faced by Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak, who is also Kedah Pas chief, will be over soon.

He had been backstabbed by Datuk Phahrolrazi Zawawi, the person whom he had groomed to take over as both the menteri besar and state party chief.

Azizan’s authority as menteri besar is also being reduced and circumvented by Pas’ central committee, when it decided to introduce a steering committee, which will have some say on the dos and don’ts for the menteri besar.

In short, his wings will be clipped. Azizan has been portrayed as a dictator by Phahrolrazi and his co-conspirator Datuk Dr Ismail Salleh, a young Turk in Kedah Pas, whom the menteri besar had also groomed.

And Pas leadership’s intervention, no matter how it tried to justify its move in setting up the steering committee, is a clear signal that it has lost confidence in Azizan’s leadership.

Everyone knows that Phahrolrazi had demanded Azizan’s resignation. He had also cited irreconcilable differences between Azizan and most of the 10 state executive councillors, including the trio from Parti Keadilan Rakyat, over the running of the state as his justification to boot out the Pas stalwart.

It is anyone’s guess how Azizan is feeling about the open attacks by his protege and the party leadership.

There are no prizes for guessing it right but Azizan had expressed to his aides his deep sorrow and disappointment at the manner he had been attacked, not by Barisan Nasional, but by his own “generals” and “commanders”.

A leader fast being isolated by his comrades, Azizan had also wondered how and why “they” had easily forgotten that it was under his leadership that Pas had captured Kedah.

Further adding to Azizan’s woes, is that word is out that Pas deputy president Mohamad Sabu (better known as Mat Sabu) was looking for a safe place in Kedah to contest a parliamentary seat in the next general election.

Pendang, said Mohamad’s supporters, was a safe bet for him.

And when posed with the question from a reporter recently, Azizan shot back at the reporter and asked him if there were any places (Pas divisions) in Kedah that would accept him.

His response was no tongue-in-cheek, a demeanour he often portrayed when posed with sensitive issues in the past. (The past here refers to before the present leadership crisis erupted.)

Azizan, clearly upset at the prospect of his No. 1 nemesis in the party contesting in Kedah, also retorted that Mat Sabu was always seeking to contest everywhere, that he had also wanted to try in Penang and many other places.

Why Mat Sabu, a Penang-born, wants to come to Kedah is anyone’s guess. He had only served as a member of parliament in Kedah once when he won in Kuala Kedah in 1999.

Prior to that and after 1999, he had won the parliamentary seats thrice — all in Kelantan and lost twice in Penang in 1982 and 1986.

Mat Sabu’s quest for Kedah lends credence to growing speculation that he and the Erdogan faction in Pas wanted to cleanse the state of the ulama group, considering that Azizan, an ulama, is the last bastion for them to conquer.

The debacle in Kedah has all the ingredients for a catastrophe for the Pakatan Rakyat government.

Many party members and supporters are still dumbfounded with what had transpired.

Bringing Mat Sabu to Kedah is a liability and could result in a political tsunami for the Pakatan Rakyat government, especially in this state.