KUALA LUMPUR - The deputy of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin in Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia has lost his majority test in the Perak state assembly, bringing an end to his two-year tenure as Perak Menteri Besar.
The vote also exposed the rift between Bersatu and its Perikatan Nasional (PN) ally Umno in the northern Malaysian state.
Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu garnered support of only 10 out of 59 state assemblymen during the Perak state assembly sitting on Friday (Dec 4) morning. Mr Ahmad Faizal is deputy president of Bersatu, whose president is Tan Sri Muhyiddin.
The vote followed a confidence motion that was filed by a lawmaker from Umno, Bersatu's ally in both the state and federal administration.
In a secret ballot, 48 state assemblymen voted against him, with one spoilt vote.
All 24 Perak opposition lawmakers from Pakatan Harapan (PH) voted against him, along with 24 other assemblymen who are Bersatu's allies in the state.
The confidence test in Perak reignited calls - including from Umno's federal MP Nazri Abdul Aziz - for a confidence test on PM Muhyiddin in Parliament, where PN leads with a wafer-thin majority.
Numerous confidence and no-confidence motions have submitted to test Mr Muhyiddin's majority since he became prime minister nine months ago, but none of the motions had been read or debated.
Further, Mr Muhyiddin's government has managed to secure majority votes among lawmakers to pass a temporary measure bill on Covid-19 and also a crucial federal budget last week.
The Perak confidence motion was filed by assemblyman Aznel Ibrahim, who is from Umno, earlier this week, and it was accepted by Perak state assembly speaker Mohamad Zahir Abdul Kadir, who is also from Umno.
Datuk Aznel was appointed as Mr Ahmad Faizal's political secretary last month without consultation with Perak Umno - one of the moves that reportedly caused further unhappiness among Umno ranks with the latter’s leadership.
Perak opposition leader Abdul Aziz Bari had previously noted that Umno and Bersatu are "at war" in the state.
Right after the vote was ratified by the state assembly, Mr Ahmad Faizal indicated that he would resign as Perak state chief and ensure "a smooth transition to the new government".
"It is a great honour to serve the beloved state. In these challenging times for our economy, I do not want to prolong a political crisis," Mr Ahmad Faizal told the state assembly.
Mr Ahmad Faizal later said he believed there will be no change in the state government, only a change in the seat of the state chief executive.
Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan said in a statement that the confidence vote would only result in the change of the MB's post and not the other state executive councillors, who make up the state cabinet.
His statement came after Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan, secretary general of Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) - an ally for both Umno and Bersatu - said his party would not take part in any attempts to form a new government in Perak.
Mr Ahmad Faizal originally became the menteri besar as part of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration after PH won the elections in Perak in 2018.
Following Bersatu's decision to leave PH and form PN at end-February, which caused the collapse of the federal PH administration, Mr Ahmad Faizal resigned as menteri besar. But he was subsequently re-appointed to the role by the state ruler for a new PN state administration.
Umno, which is the biggest party in PN, has 25 seats in the Perak state legislature, far eclipsing Bersatu's five seats.
Another PN ally, PAS has three seats.
In the state opposition, PH's 24 seats comprises 16 from the Democratic Action Party, five from Parti Amanah Negara and three held by Parti Keadilan Rakyat.
Parti Gerakan, an independent party, has one assemblyman, and there is also an independent legislator.
Umno and Bersatu previously clashed over the Sabah Chief Minister's post after PN won the state elections there in September, with Umno ultimately ceding the post to Bersatu after two days of negotiations.