Political Timebomb Defused for Now, but MB Could Still Be in a Precarious Position

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A purported plot to oust Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari appears to have hit a snag after the political timebomb over a unilateral religious conversion bill – which threatened to rip apart Pakatan Harapan in the state – is defused.

Azneal Ishak/Malaysiakini

However, with Amirudin indicating there is a possibility the bill could be tabled again and with the daggers out for him after his remarks on a sex video scandal irked PKR president Anwar Ibrahim’s supporters, the menteri besar could still find himself in a precarious position.

A PKR operative in Selangor had contacted Malaysiakini claiming there are sufficient statutory declarations to show that Amirudin has lost the confidence of the state assembly.

Met yesterday, the PKR member, who declined to be named, said the coup would be supported by at least nine PKR assemblypersons, 16 from DAP, eight from Amanah, and three from Bersatu.

This adds up to a total of 36 assemblypersons, more than than the 29 needed for a simple majority.

The source claimed that Anwar is aware but instructed them not to do anything until he returned from performing the Hajj. However, Anwar’s aide denied this.

According to the source, the move against Amirudin was primarily due to the alleged mismanagement of Selangor’s welfare programmes dubbed Inisiatif Peduli Rakyat.

The source also showed an unsigned statutory declaration for an assemblyperson, which pledged support for Ijok representative Dr Idris Ahmad to take over as menteri besar.

Idris’ name had cropped up as the potential menteri besar prior to Amirudin taking over the post from the latter’s mentor and PKR deputy president Azmin Ali after the last general election.

When contacted, Idris claimed to be in the dark over the matter.

“I don’t know about this (becoming menteri besar). This is a story being spread by Umno and BN to weaken and divide Selangor Harapan. No other comment,” he told Malaysiakini.

Conspirators sought to capitalise on purported MB-speaker row

It appeared that the purported row Amirudin had with Selangor state assembly speaker Ng Suee Lim over the unilateral conversion bill provided an opportunity for the conspirators to make their move, as the coup would not work without DAP’s support.

Amirudin had allegedly sought to table the unilateral conversion bill despite strong opposition from Harapan assemblypersons, including members of his cabinet.

Ng then reportedly scuttled the bill by refusing to sign a document for it to be tabled. He then ended the Selangor state assembly sitting early but later denied this was related to the bill.

Koh Jun Lin/Malaysiakini

Following this, it was alleged that the menteri besar’s supporters in PKR were mulling a move to replace Ng, who is a four-term DAP assemblyperson, as speaker,

In response, the DAP leadership announced its full support for Ng, with one representative saying the party would protect him at all costs.

Last night, a DAP source confirmed with Malaysiakini they had been approached by the anti-Amirudin faction.

“A movement was brewing by the other faction, but failed to become reality.

“We did not say ‘yes’, we only took a wait and see (approach). If you (Amirudin) did not touch us (as in acting against the speaker), why would we touch you?” the source said.

Tensions cooled following meeting with MB

The DAP representative also indicated that tensions between the party and Amirudin had cooled after Harapan representatives met the menteri besar at his residence in Shah Alam yesterday evening.

This later prompted the issuance of a joint statement pledging support for both the menteri besar and state assembly speaker.

Likewise, the source said it was a positive development that the Selangor palace – which supported the unilateral conversion bill proposed by the Selangor Islamic Council (Mais) – had shared the state’s four non-Muslim excos’ audience with Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah on social media.

A Bersatu source, who was at the Harapan meeting at the menteri besar’s residence, said those present were informed that the sultan understood why the bill was not tabled and the complexities behind it.

Met by reporters yesterday, both Amirudin and Ng indicated there were no fractures in the state government.

However, they both pointed at each other when asked why the unilateral bill was not tabled.

Likewise, Amirudin said the bill was not completely out of the picture and would be tabled again if there is a need to do so.

At present, the enactment reads that those below 18 must obtain the consent of the “mother and father” before embracing Islam. The amendment seeks to change this to “mother or father.”

The Bahasa Malaysia version of the Federal Constitution also refers to “mother or father” with regard to consent for conversion.

However, the apex court last year made a landmark ruling in the M Indira Gandhi case that the constitution should not be interpreted literally, and the consent of both parents are needed for the conversion of minors.