No end to crisis in Kedah

Kedah is in the throes of an administrative crisis as tensions between Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak and his state secretary Datuk Rasli Basir worsen amid attempts to make the top civil servant resign.

Joceline Tan (The Star)

DATUK Seri Azizan Abdul Razak was in a relaxed mood as he mingled with the dignitaries sending off the King and Queen who were leaving for the Haj in Mecca. The Kedah Mentri Besar seems to have recovered from his poor health; he looked steady on his feet and has even put on some weight.

But rumours about his tenure continue to irritate him. Last Wednesday, journalists were calling up his office to ask about reports that he was resigning that afternoon. It was completely untrue and the news portal that published the news has since apologised.

Azizan has no plans to resign. Instead, he is demanding the resignation of his state secretary Datuk Rasli Basir.

Kedah is currently embroiled in an administrative crisis that has drawn parallels to the one that had preceded the appointment of Tan Sri Sanusi Junid as Mentri Besar back in the 1990s. The current crisis has caused the state administration to come to a near standstill and there are endless accounts of how state matters, especially land applications, have stalled for months.

At one level, the crisis is about the fallout between the Mentri Besar and the state secretary. At another, it is about PAS trying to assert control over the Kedah civil service.

The Mentri Besar and his state secretary have locked horns for much of the past year and witnesses have watched them argue openly at meetings.

They are barely on talking terms and Rasli was not allowed to visit Azizan when the latter spent weeks in hospital.

Their fractured ties and animosity are an open secret in the state. But it erupted into the open following Rasli’s decision to transfer one of his district officers (DO) Ahmad Fisol Md Nor from Kubang Pasu to Kuala Muda.

It seemed like a routine transfer but it has erupted into a political issue with PAS politicians claiming that Rasli has no right to order the transfer as Ahmad Fisol is also Kubang Pasu District Council chairman.

They said that while the DOs come under the power of the state secretary, district council appointments come under the political purview of PAS. As such, they are claiming that Rasli has overstepped his powers in taking Ahmad Fisol out of his chairman post.

The PAS side apparently like Mohd Fisol who is said to be sympathetic to the party’s cause. Several district councillors have since staged protests against Rasli, holding up banners calling for his resignation. They are demanding that Rasli reverses the transfer of Ahmad Fisol. However, Rasli is standing firm.

But the story behind the story is that PAS had been uncomfortable with Rasli from the day they came to power.

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