Kedah MB sidelines ringleader and drops two others as GE candidates 

(The Star) – Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak has made his move against the rebel group that had tried to topple him as Kedah Mentri Besar.

He has sidelined the ringleader and dropped two other rebels in his list of candidates for the general election.

Azizan, who is Kedah PAS commissioner, has cut off group leader Datuk Phahrolrazi Mohd Zawawi from the succession line by putting him in a parliamentary seat that is seen as an Umno stronghold.

Phahrolrazi has been moved from the Pengkalan Kundor state seat to Jerlun, according to the list that Azizan submitted recently to the party’s central leadership. Jerlun is now held by Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir.

Assemblymen Dr Ismail Salleh and Dr Hamdan Mohamed Khalid, who were seen to be among the rebels, have been dropped as candidates in their respective constituencies of Alor Mengkudu and Tanjung Dawai.

According to a highly-placed source, the new list was leaked recently, causing anger among supporters of Phahrolrazi and sparking public protests against Azizan.

Several protesters have gone to the extent of asking Azizan to resign as Mentri Besar. More protests are reportedly being planned.

Phahrolrazi’s relocation is seen as an attempt to undermine his power base in the Kuala Kedah division where he is PAS chairman.

This will pave the way for deputy Kuala Kedah chairman Datuk Amiruddin Hamzah, a strong ally of Azizan, to move up.

Azizan, however, may not get his way. PAS secretary-general Datuk Mustafa Ali confirmed that Azizan had submitted a fresh list that was different from an earlier list of election candidates but added that the central committee will have the final say on who will contest and where.

Mustafa did not elaborate on either list.

“We have received feedback from some people who are dissatisfied with the new list,” he said.

Azizan insisted that the changes were “a matter of strategy”.

“A lot of people qualify to be candidates but not everyone is suitable. Adjustments have to be made when issues crop up, if the candidate has problems,” he said.

He, too, declined to comment on specific names affected by the changes.

“Elections are like giving birth. Before a baby is born, you can tell whether it will be a boy or girl but usually we won’t name it yet,” he said.

The new list has also ruffled the feathers of some people who are not among the rebels. Pendang MP Datuk Dr Mohd Hayati Othman is believed to be unhappy about being moved from his parliamentary seat to the Sungai Tiang state seat, currently held by Kedah Umno’s rising star Datuk Suraya Yaakob.

The Pendang seat will go to PAS deputy president Mohamed Sabu, who has been looking for a winnable seat.

In the original list, Dr Mohd Hayati was supposed to contest in Tokai where PAS has a strong base. But Azizan has reinstated Tokai assemblyman Datuk Taulan Mat Rasul, who is his close ally. Taulan, a syariah lawyer, was to have retired because he will be 71 this year.

The sources claimed that Azizan regarded Dr Mohd Hayati as a threat because the medical doctor’s name had been bandied about as a potential mentri besar.