Perlis in political limbo

GEORGE TOWN: Perlis has been hit by one of the biggest political impasses after the 14th General Election. It is unable to appoint a mentri besar, 12 days after the polls.

Perlis has 150,221 registered voters. Majority of them voted in Barisan Nasional (BN) that won 10 of the 15 state seats. It also took two of the three parliament seats in a state, which is smaller than the Kubang Pasu district in Kedah.

There is still no sign of a solution after Perlis Umno liaison chairman Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim had earlier suggested that his brother Datuk Ismail Kassim (Tambun Tulang-BN) be anointed as the leader of the new state government.

The former mentri besar Datuk Seri Azlan Man (Bintong-BN) claimed that he was not consulted over the matter.

On top of that, BN has to deal with Pakatan Harapan (PH), which has seized federal power.

To complicate matters, Shahidan is said to be in a private hospital in the Klang Valley.

Indera Kayangan assemblyman Gan Ay Ling from PKR told theSun that PH would respect the wishes of the palace on this matter.

"The Raja of Perlis Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Tuanku Syed Putra Jamalullail was graceful enough to grant an audience with several of the backbenchers. He then told us that he needed time to foster a close rapport with all elected representatives. Our ruler wanted to understand who could be the best person to lead Perlis.

"In Perlis, the palace cares deeply about its subjects, hence they want to ensure that the next mentri besar shares the same aspirations with the palace in developing the state," said Gan, who was previously the Penang Island City Council councillor.

The palace probably needs time to consult all parties to reach an agreement on who is the best candidate, she said.

There were also speculations that some elected representatives in BN are considering to cross over to PH so the state could continue to enjoy strong support from the federal side in developing the state.

Gan confirmed hearing such developments, but said that for now, the issue is about who should lead the state first.

"Talk about defections may be too early. We just want what is best for the state," said Gan.

Political analyst Prof Dr James Chin said PH is now preoccupied with the federal Cabinet, so it is not paying attention to Perlis.

"Perhaps when the federal part is settled, the new coalition may address the issues in the state such as rumours about defections," he said.

BN insiders said some Umno leaders are refraining from crossing over to PH because of opposition from the grassroots.

Chin said in the past decade, the Malay rulers have come to influence the selection of mentris besar as they deeply care about the people.

"The rulers have indirectly asserted their influence by getting the mentris besar, who will at least take the views of the rulers on major decisions," he said.