Sunday, November 29, 2009

Who Will Replace Nik Aziz In Kelantan?

In the blur of a mutiny aiming to overthrow the “ship’s captain” in the Kelantan government, the big question that arises in the waves sweeping over the petty state is about who will replace the 77-year old PAS Mentri Besar (Chief Minister).

Nik Aziz Nik Mat, wiry, wily and aging, is also PAS’s (Islamic Party’s) spiritual leader.

Approaching 20 years into a secure tenure, he ruled like a surviving slur of the oriental despotism he seemed to believe will hold for another century or two.

Observers had him supped into a senile wanderlust when he kept taking to task the party president he wanted tamed and the deputy president he wanted out. It was a sustained attempt to dispel any notion that may reduce him into anything lesser than the “Captain of the Ship”.

He kept cajoling the party leaders and each time he did his thing the PAS swayed and buckled close to rupture.

When the mutiny broke out it was, to many, a much-awaited sign of sustained life in the PAS, but bringing in the tide a clear reading of monumental death.

The current crisis in the state can lead to a grab of power for a decent future of modernization and development the Barisan Nasional (BN) can make. The BN needs a frontline leader acceptable to the people of the small delta community.

The drama began when popular blogger, Kickdefella (here), suddenly sacked from his position as a liaisons officer of the state investment arm, hit hard on Nik Aziz Nik Mat’s nose.

The ancient squat protuberance of the spiritual leader and politician bled. It will bleed more if he is found guilty of accepting criminal gratification from a logger.

The rich logger, said to be a former truck driver who gained a timber concession from the state government worth RM20 million, must have been grateful enough to spend more than RM400k on a "five-star" Haj trip to Mecca for the Chief Minister and his select group of VVIPs.

Nik Aziz and his spouse was one pair of the beneficiaries of this Al-Santa Clausu, the Muslim Gift-Bearer. His son-in-law, Ir Ariffahmi Abdul Rahman and wife, was another pair, said Kickdefella, placing the parents of the bride and the prodigal son-in-law in a political embrace few would envy.

The "five-star" trip to Mecca costs RM65,000 for each pair when about RM10,000 would have sufficed.

Nik Aziz had appointed his son-in-law as CEO of the state’s investment arm he chaired himself.

It is this fellow who sacked the blogger for reasons still unknown, the probabilities leaning heavily to a spin of intrigues Kickdefella suggested was about the creation of a dynasty.

For reasons of her own Ir Ariffahmi’s wife, Nik Amalina Nik Aziz, had written and widely published in the net a soul-spilling letter to say her father, the Chief Minister, had indeed offered the big job to her husband from about one year before he husband finally accepted the appointment.

She described it as a “hot seat”. It is looking like it could burn through his pants.

She targeted the blogger.

Kickdefella is known to be an aide of Husam Musa, a state Executive Councilor (Minister) who had been groomed by Nik Aziz he served for almost 20 years beginning as a Press Secretary in 1990.

Observers mostly agreed Husam Musa did a great job to promote his boss. He was articulate, physically well-stacked and informed.

When he became Political Secretary six years later he was seen as a protégé of Nik Aziz and being groomed for high office in the state.

Husam rose to become a state minister in 2004 and soon into his second term he lunged for number two of the Islamic Party in mid-2009.

He lost, a failed crossing of the Rubicon that would have unsettled Rome for Julius Caesar.

But Kelantan obviously isn’t quite comparable to Caesar’s Rome and Nik Amalina cannot be the asp in Cleo’s chamber.

Kelantan is actually one of nine petty monarchies in the Malay Peninsular noisily bugging the environment to create heat for a constant clear sighting by GSP from above.

Kickdefella locked in and he gripped the stoic Menteri Besar in an allegation of blatant nepotism and possible graft, threatening to spill more beans that should cause the old man to rue the day he decided his son-in-law must be the CEO of the state company he sits on as Chairman.

Nik Aziz had slipped. The 77-year old stoic who is regarded by many as a Muslim saint is certainly having lots to explain.

Is Islam actually free of values that collectively forbid nepotism? Are gifts from the well-gratified merely a pleasant way of saying “Thank You” to state leaders and their councils of powerfolks called in Kelantan “VVIPs”?

Husan Musa, obviously dunked by the wily old man, was soon reported to have said he wanted out of the state government and the party, sending the Chief Minister into a corner too tight for him.

How can he face the future should his former protégé lead the final attack against him from within, or abruptly slide into the Opposition and invade his fort?

The Deputy Mentri Besar, Mohamad Yakub, is a quiet man of diligence that seemed to have cleverly failed to record his political existence. He is held in the state as unavailable for the high office.

Ariffahmi Abdul Rahman, the Engineer CEO of the states investment arm, should have accepted the job his father-in-law offered him a year earlier. He has many steps to go before he can be in the running.

That leaves either Husam Musa who is now zoomed into a limbo and the Umno Kelantan liaison chief and federal minister, Mustapha Mohammed, a brilliant former civil servant.

Nik Aziz, cornered into the wilds of the fall from grace, is likely to be thinking of dissolving the state assembly pronto and let the party run for the sun it can lose.

Whoever will finally be chosen to lead the charge in the BN must be the sort of personality the people of the tightly knit delta community can accept and can trust. Mustapha, who is the brightest, must quickly take the lead. But will he go for it? ----a. ghani ismail, 29 Nov. 2009.

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