Sulaiman Ali beat Rauf Yusoh to the starting line

By Joceline Tan, The Star

The Umno political circle in Melaka has been abuzz over the hasty swearing of Datuk Seri Sulaiman Md Ali as Chief Minister at 1am on Sunday (Nov 21) morning.

It is understood that the decision to rush through the swearing-in was made after an unexpected attempt by newly-elected Tanjung Bidara assemblyman Datuk Seri Rauf Yusoh to claim the chief minister post.

Rauf, who is the state Umno chairman, was absent from Sulaiman’s swearing-in before Governor Tun Mohd Ali Rustam.

Rauf had tried to lobby top party leaders including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, party president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and also Datuk Seri Najib Razak who is Barisan Nasional advisor.

It is learnt they put their foot down and insisting that Barisan cannot go back on their manifesto choice of Sulaiman for the top post.

Rauf, when contacted, said it is up to the party to explain why he was not present at the swearing-in ceremony.

He declined to comment on whether he made a last-minute bid for the chief minister post but said that he has no intention of rocking the new government.

“Why should I topple the government that I helped to set up? I will help Sulaiman, he is my buddy. I will give him my strong support,” said Rauf

“I want to avoid situation where there are two tigers on a hill. I want to see a good combination so that we can work together to take Melaka forward,” he added when speaking to The Star.

Rauf was a central and controversial figure in the events leading to the dissolution of the state assembly.

He struggled to defeat Perikatan Nasional candidate Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin by only 364 votes, down from a majority of 4,865 in 2018.

Asked about his absence from the swearing-in event, he said that was for the party to answer.

Despite professing support for Sulaiman, Rauf indicated he was meeting Umno division chiefs today and would hold a press conference later in the day.

He was coy about the purpose of the press conference but said he only wants to play a role in the state government and that it was up to the chief minister to decide on a role he is suitable for.

“They should show some appreciation and discuss with me,” said Rauf who was previously the state assembly speaker.

It is possible that Rauf, having failed in his eleventh hour bid for the chief ministership, is now trying to make sure that Sulaiman does not exclude him from the state exco.

Barisan swept back to power in Melaka winning 21 out 28 seats on Saturday (Nov 20).