ALOR SETAR • A new Kedah Menteri Besar - most likely state Umno deputy liaison chief Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah - could be sworn in by the end of the month, an Umno-owned daily reported, after last week's open rebellion against the incumbent.
Quoting a source, the Utusan Malaysia said yesterday that the issue was discussed on Friday at a closed-door meeting between Kedah Umno leaders and Prime Minister and party president Najib Razak, The Malaysian Insider reported.
Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah, who is apparently spearheading a move to remove incumbent Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir, however remained tight-lipped after the meeting. "Give him (Datuk Seri Najib) some time to make a decision. Whatever decision he will make is his prerogative," Mr Ahmad Bashah was quoted as saying by The Star yesterday. "Whether I will be appointed the new Menteri Besar is not an issue. I will support whoever the candidate is."
Utusan's source claimed that an announcement on the new candidate could be made as soon as today, but Mr Ahmad Bashah said he was not aware of the news.
"In the meeting, we did not mention who the new Menteri Besar will be," said the Umno veteran.
Mr Najib is expected to be in Langkawi today, where he is expected to attend two functions.
Citing a message hotly circulated via WhatsApp, the Free Malaysia Today news site on Thursday said Mr Ahmad Bashah will be sworn in in a ceremony scheduled for Jan 29.
Thirteen of 15 Umno division leaders from Kedah attended Friday's closed-door meeting, two days after Mr Ahmad Bashah urged the Prime Minister to replace Mr Mukhriz for failing to unite the party and machinery at all levels in the state, and failing to bring about development. He claimed that 14 Umno division leaders had lost confidence in Mr Mukhriz's leadership.
Responding to the attacks, Mr Mukhriz, son of former premier Mahathir Mohamad, who is leading calls for Mr Najib to step down, said his work is best judged by the people whom he has served. He added that he would step aside only if there was a better and a more capable leader.
A political website had speculated that Mr Najib would offer Mr Mukhriz a federal post if he would voluntarily step down, failing which a legal solution would be sought by calling for a special sitting of the state legislative assembly to institute a vote of no confidence against him.
Speaking after Friday's meeting, a leader who declined to be identified after Mr Najib imposed a gag order, said the Umno president "only spoke in general about the two solutions" and "did not offer any specific solution".
Another division head said that Mr Najib had asked that he be given time to resolve the issue. "He also stressed that he wants us to keep our spirits up and to be loyal to Umno's top leadership," said the division head, who declined to be identified.