Najib to meet Sultan over Terengganu leadership crisis

Relations between Terengganu Menteri Besar Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman (top) and Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin have deteriorated.
Relations between Terengganu Menteri Besar Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman (above) and Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin have deteriorated.
Relations between Terengganu Menteri Besar Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman (top) and Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin have deteriorated.
Relations between Terengganu Menteri Besar Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman and Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin (above) have deteriorated.

Relations between ruler and chief minister Razif have soured; BN state government fears damaging fallout

LUNDU, Sarawak • Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said yesterday that he would have an audience soon with the Sultan of Terengganu over a leadership crisis involving the state's chief minister.

He said speculation about the fate of Menteri Besar Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman should end, adding that it was "business as usual" in the oil-rich east coast state.

"I am scheduled to have an audience with the Sultan of Terengganu soon and I will only issue a statement after the meeting," Datuk Seri Najib told reporters in Sarawak.

He did not say when he would meet Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, but the New Straits Times said the audience was likely to be today.

"I hope there will no more speculation regarding (the position) of the Terengganu Menteri Besar," the NST quoted him as saying.

Speculation that Mr Razif may be on his way out has increased on social media over the past few days after his name was announced at a public function at the weekend without his customary title of "Datuk Seri". The title was awarded by the Sultan.

The Office of the Sultan confirmed yesterday that all awards issued to Mr Razif had been revoked last Friday, the Bernama news agency reported.

Relations between Mr Razif and the Sultan apparently deteriorated last week after remarks by Mr Razif that the palace saw as denigrating to the ruler.

Mr Razif was appointed by Mr Najib in 2014 after then menteri besar Ahmad Said, who had been appointed by Sultan Mizan in March 2008, was removed.

Another change in the top leadership would see Terengganu with its third menteri besar in eight years.

Umno vice-president Hishammuddin Tun Hussein drew attention to the crisis on Sunday by calling for calm on the matter.

"What's important now is to ensure that whatever issues that can weaken the party, we try to reduce," he was quoted as saying by The Sun newspaper after attending an event in Kuala Lumpur.

Datuk Seri Hishammuddin, who is Defence Minister, also addressed a major concern of the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) leadership in Terengganu - that a political crisis could cause a collapse of the state government.

BN has a narrow two-seat majority in the state assembly with 17 seats. The remaining 15 seats are held by Parti Islam SeMalaysia and Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

Mr Hishammuddin said: "We have proved before that if we put the party and state's interests above everything else, then two seats won't be something that would be worrying."

With the Sultan not keen for Mr Razif to continue, a possible replacement, according to The Star newspaper yesterday, is assemblyman Datuk Mohd Jidin Shafee, who is a state exco member.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2016, with the headline 'Najib to meet Sultan over Terengganu leadership crisis'. Print Edition | Subscribe