By Mohd Farhan Darwis
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 — It is not for PAS but for the Kedah government to decide on a successor for its ailing Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak, the Islamist party’s secretary-general said today.
Azizan’s frail health has drawn much speculation over a replacement, as the northern state does not have a deputy mentri besar. Its state constitution also does not provide for such a position in the government, unlike in neighbouring Penang.
However, PAS secretary-general Datuk Mustafa Ali said the MB’s health will not jeopardise the administration of Kedah as the state executive council (exco) members could represent Azizan at official functions.
“(The issue of) an acting mentri besar has never been raised, even though his health has grown more critical, central PAS has never discussed this issue,” he told The Malaysian Insider when contacted.
Azizan (picture) was hospitalised at the Kedah Medical Centre in Alor Setar on August 30 after he was diagnosed with fatigue, believed to have been brought on by a slew of engagements during the recent Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
The 72-year-old also has a history of high blood pressure and was admitted to the National Heart Institute after suffering chest pains last year.
The MB turned up briefly at the state ruling party’s official Aidilfitri celebrations in Alor Setar on September 1 after getting his doctor’s permission, and returned to his hospital bed about half an hour later.
Mustafa noted that Azizan’s appearance at the party proved the latter’s health was on the mend.
“He recently attended the Kedah PAS open house. This shows that his health is improving.”
Mustafa also issued an assurance that there had been no problems with the state administration to date and that the party had also not interfered in Kedah’s administrative affairs.
“There is no problem regarding the administration in Kedah as the exco can act for the mentri besar in official state programmes, except in the exco meeting,” Mustafa said.
But he added that Azizan will be present and will chair the next exco meeting, which was scheduled for today but has been postponed to later this week.
The Malaysian Insider understands the meeting today was called off, as Azizan was not feeling well enough to resume his duties.
Kedah Gerakan Youth chief Tan Keng Liang was reported by state news wire Bernama as urging the PAS-led government to amend the state’s constitution to create a deputy mentri besar post and ensure there would be no hiccups in the smooth running of the state should the mentri besar be incapacitated.
Kedah was one of the five states that the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal coalition lost during its worst-ever electoral performance in Election 2008, along with Selangor, Penang, Perak, and Kelantan.
It has been the subject of intense focus by the BN coalition that is bidding to regain the state at the next election.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had conducted a whirlwind tour there last week, where he urged Umno members to close ranks ahead of national polls.
A general election must be called by April 2013, when the current BN federal administration’s mandate will expire.