Kedah chief Mukhriz Mahathir hit back on Sunday (Jan 31) at several state Umno leaders calling for his resignation, in the latest development in the Malaysian ruling party's bid to oust the political heir to former premier Mahathir Mohamad.
In a two-page statement, Datuk Seri Mukhriz said Umno's move, which began on Jan 20 and coincides with the Kedah Sultan's 88th birthday celebrations, is "irresponsible", the Star reported. The actions of the leaders has not only offended the Sultan, who is also the head of state, but the Kedah Regency Council, said Mr Mukhriz, who is Dr Mahathir's third son.
Fourteen out of 15 Umno divisions in Kedah withdrew support for Mr Mukhriz as Menteri Besar on Jan 20, saying his weak leadership had stalled the state's economy. Only the Jerlun division, which is headed by Mr Mukhriz, remains loyal.
Kedah, Malaysia's biggest rice-planting state, is known for its Langkawi tourist island and industrial output from Sungai Petani and Kulim towns.
The plan to topple Mr Mukhriz is seen as an act of vengeance by Umno chief and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, as the Kedah chief minister has so far supported his father Tun Dr Mahathir in the latter's harsh criticisms of the premier.
Umno has presented "several suggestions" to the Kedah palace to replace Mr Mukhriz, Datuk Seri Najib said on Friday.
"The actions of the 12 division leaders and two deputy leaders to drag both wings, including the Youth leadership, to the press conference on Jan 20 are irresponsible," Mr Mukhriz was quoted by The Star as saying on Sunday.
"In fact, some of those present at the press conference told me that they were not informed of the purpose and details of the statement that was made.
"I believe their call does not represent the majority of Umno members and more importantly, that of Kedahans.
"As chairman of Kedah Umno and Mentri Besar, I had been notified that the Sultan and the Kedah Regency Council were offended by the group's actions.
"What was more regretful was the actions of several state executive councillors who had taken the oath of loyalty to the Ruler when they accepted the posts," Mr Mukhriz said.
Noting that six out of the nine state executive council members did not attend the weekly meeting on Jan 27, he said this was an abuse of their appointment as public servants.
He urged the 14 Umno division heads who have turned against him as well as the six Exco members who skipped the Exco meeting to immediately seek forgiveness from the Kedah Sultan and the Council.
"Until the issue is resolved, all state Excos and assemblyman must carry out their responsibilities trusted upon them by the Ruler in accordance with the laws of Kedah state government," said Mr Mukhriz.
Assemblymen under Kedah's ruling Barisan Nasional coalition are scheduled to meet members of the Kedah Council of Regency on Monday to discuss the Menteri Besar leadership crisis. Mr Mukhriz said he would not attend the meeting