IPOH (March 15): Though DAP Perak is openly supporting Datuk Seri Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin of PAS as the mentri besar candidate should Pakatan Rakyat win the state in the next general election, it is not certain he will be the only choice for the post.
PAS Perak election director Asmuni Awi said there had been no discussions so far at the state Pakatan Rakyat (PR) level regarding the choice of MB.
"The mentri besar is decided by the Sultan of Perak. We leave it to the Sultan. We will send in names that our leadership feels proper, and eventually the Sultan will decide," he said in an exclusive interview with fz.com today.
As an example, Asmuni said in 2008, the three parties had sent in one name each for the Sultan to decide on, and Nizar was subsequently endorsed.
Asked if any discussion had taken place within PAS on this matter, Asmuni said the issue has not been discussed at the state level, but "we will do that after we cross the line".
"Nothing has been discussed at the Pakatan Rakyat state level. No discussions have taken place, so what I can say is that DAP is supporting Nizar on their own," Asmuni.
Nizar for Changkat Jering?
On whether Nizar is contesting the Changkat Jering state seat, as announced by the PAS Perak deputy youth chief Dr Raja Ahmad Iskandar Al-Hiss last night, Asmuni said the matter had not been decided yet.
He explained that according to the party's plan, Nizar, who is Pasir Panjang state assembly member, may be moving seats, leaving another leader to contest there.
There is, however, a possibility that he could be fielded in Changkat Jering, which is one of the state seats under the Bukit Gantang parliamentary constituency.
PKR's Osman Jailu contested and won the Changkat Jering seat in the 2008 general election, but later quit the party to become a BN-friendly independent.
Nizar, who is the Bukit Gantang MP, is known to the electorate in the area and may stand a good chance of winning the seat if he contests here.
However, PAS Youth's announcement that Nizar would stand in Changkat Jering caught PKR Perak by surprise, and even Nizar was quoted by Sinar Harian as saying the action (to announce his candidacy) was "naughty".
Asmuni said that the announcement was not endorsed by the state leadership but merely the unilateral stand of the PAS Changkat Jering youth.
"We don't endorse anything yet," Asmuni said, adding that he believed the national leadership could resolve the matter.
PKR Perak state chief Dr Muhammad Nur Manuty also confirmed that the status of the seat is not yet decided.
"It is not yet finalised by central committee level," he said in a phone interview, adding that if Nizar is contesting the seat, PAS would need to swap with PKR another winnable seat.
Asked if the unilateral announcement by PAS Youth showed cracks in the Pakatan Rakyat and within PAS, Asmuni shrugged it off and claimed BN component parties also face the same issue.
"I don't think so; I think the matter will be resolved by the full wisdom of our leadership. The action was taken by the kawasan (division), but not endorsed by the state," he said.
Poser over two seats
Asmuni explained that currently there are two seats that are claimed by both PAS and PKR: Changkat Jering and Bagan Serai parliamentary seat. Both seats were contested and won by PKR in the 2008 general election, but both representatives had defected and became BN-friendly independents.
He said that after the defection, PKR did not have a team or a representative to provide service to the electorate in these constituencies, much to the chagrin of the PAS grassroots leaders here.
"PKR had failed to service the (Changkat Jering) seat, it was very much unlike in Jelapang after the assemblywoman (Hee Yit Foong) crossed over to BN, DAP took control of that constituency effectively. They have a service centre to look after the constituency and the people are not abandoned.
"But the same thing did not happen in Changkat Jering. The PKR service centre was closed down, and only reopened sometime in mid-last year, and there is no representative to look after the constituency. In the meantime, Nizar went to service the constituency," Asmuni said, adding that the same thing happened in Bagan Serai.
Bagan Serai MP Mohsin Fadzli Samsuri quit PKR in 2010 to become an independent.
As both seats were contested by PAS in 1999 and 2004 general election, the grassroots are asking the state leadership to stake a claim on these seats for the next GE.
However, following discussions, both PAS and PKR reached a consensus to let PKR contest the seat again.
It is believed the PKR candidate picked to contest in Bagan Serai is state PKR chief Muhammad Nur. The official announcement will be made tonight by PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at a ceramah in Bagan Serai.
However, both parties cannot reach a consensus on Changkat Jering and have left the matter to the national leadership to make the final decision.