Updated 6:40pm, 14 April 2009
PUTRAJAYA, 14 April 2009: As Barisan Nasional (BN) puzzles over its losses in two recent by-elections, it now has to deal with a fresh political crisis brewing in Terengganu, where attempts to oust the BN menteri besar have been launched by his own state assemblypersons.
Today, 10 BN assemblypersons boycotted the Terengganu state legislative assembly sitting, in a move related to a threatening SMS received by three of them last night. The assemblypersons said they would only attend the sitting if their safety was guaranteed.
Najib But Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said it was not a full-blown crisis, and added that the matter can be resolved quickly.
“I have spoken to (Terengganu Menteri Besar) Datuk Ahmad Said and his version was that the SMS did not emanate from his office,” Bernama reported Najib as saying.
Najib was speaking to reporters after witnessing the signing of agreements on the Working Capital Guarantee Scheme and the Industry Restructuring Loan Guarantee Scheme at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre here.
Najib was asked to comment on the move by the BN assemblypersons and their claims about the threatening SMS.
The assemblypersons had claimed the text message originated from a senior government official, but Najib said the source of the SMS had yet to be verified.
Najib also expressed hope that all the assemblypersons would attend the state assembly sitting.
Answering a question, he said the assemblypersons had denied that there was an attempt to remove the menteri besar from his office.
Earlier, there were rumours that a motion of no confidence would be tabled against Ahmad at the current sitting.
The Terengganu crisis has also drawn a response from Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who said he will meet Ahmad and more BN legislators soon to uncover the real situation in the state.
He said he already met some assemblypersons a few days back and wanted to hear the latest report on the supposed boycott of the state legislative assembly sitting today by 10 BN lawmakers.
Muhyiddin, the Umno deputy president, tried to downplay the boycott reported earlier today.
“They boycotted? They didn’t attend. That’s different. I’ve not got the latest report, but it is their right not to attend, so long as it doesn’t affect the BN’s position in the state assembly,” he said when asked about it at a press conference after he assumed his new duties as education minister today.
The BN has 24 of the 32 state seats in the assembly, while PAS has eight.
Muhyiddin (File pic courtesy of theSun)“We have been entrusted to rule the state, and everyone must be seen to be working as a team. Any indication of some dissatisfaction that might affect the position of the government there is of importance for us,” Muhyiddin said.
He said larger issues beyond Ahmad might be involved in the unhappiness of the BN assemblypersons.
“Well, he is the MB, and he’s doing whatever he’s supposed to do. There could be some other issues and problems we have to look at,” Muhyiddin said when asked if the federal government was satisfied with Ahmad’s performance.
Early today in KUALA TERENGGANU, Bernama reported that the 10 assemblypersons had decided to boycott the second day of the state legislative assembly sitting.
They are Tepoh assemblyperson Muhammad Ramli Noh, Mohd Zawawi Ismail (Kuala Berang), Abdul Halim Jusoh (Permaisuri), Datuk Din Adam (Bukit Besi), Datuk Rosol Wahid (Ajil), Alias Abdullah (Alor Limbat), Zakaria Abdullah (Paka), Ramlan Ali (Jabi), Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh (Jertih) and Mohd Pehimi Yusof (Kota Putera).
Those inside the legislative assembly at the start of today’s proceedings were the menteri besar, 10 executive council members, three BN assemblypersons and eight opposition members from PAS.
It was reported in the newspapers that the menteri besar had given a stern warning that disciplinary action, including sacking, would be taken against BN assemblypersons if a no-confidence motion was tabled against him in the state assembly.
The 10 assemblypersons’ move to boycott the sitting was believed to be related to the text message received by Abdul Halim, Zakaria and Rosol yesterday.
A question of safety
Speaking at a news conference at a hotel here, Rosol said they would only attend the sitting if their safety was assured.
The news conference was attended by all the involved assemblypersons, except for Idris.
Rosol said he and two others received threats via short messaging service (SMS) last night which said, “(B)aik jangan teruskan niat YB, YB tak sayang nyawa? (If you value your life, you had better not go ahead with it).”
Rosol, who is the Terengganu backbenchers club chairperson, claimed that the text message was sent by a state government officer based on the number available on the government diary.
The three — Rosol, Zakaria and Abudl Halim — had lodged a police report early today. Rosol lodged his at the Hulu Terengganu IPD in Kuala Berang at about 12.30pm, while Zakaria and Abdul Halim lodged their reports at the Kuala Terengganu district police headquarters (IPD) 10 minutes later.
Abdul Halim told reporters at the Kuala Terengganu IPD that they received the SMS at about 11.20pm last night from an individual whom they found to be someone they knew after checking the telephone number from the state government’s official diary.
He said that the text message could be related to the talks that several BN assemblypersons would stage a revolt against Ahmad Said during the state legislative assembly sitting.
“I would like to explain that we have never discussed about the matter. I don’t know from where the information comes from that there will be a no-confidence motion in this assembly sitting,” Rosol said.
Asked whether he would inform the menteri besar of the threat, Abdul Halim said he would not do so because he had lodged a police report.
Ahmad SaidAhmad Said in the dark
Meanwhile, MB Ahmad said he had no idea why 10 state assemblypersons from the BN did not attend the state assembly sitting today, reports Bernama.
He also said he did not know that the three BN assemblypersons had received death threats through SMS last night.
“I had just returned from Kemaman at about 2.30 this morning. I have no idea about the SMS and the action by the 10 assemblypersons in not attending the assembly sitting today,” he said when met by reporters when the sitting adjourned for lunch today.
He was asked to comment on the action by the 10 BN assemblypersons in refusing to attend the second day of the sitting as they claimed their safety was threatened.
Commenting further, Ahmad said he was not surprised by the action of the BN assemblypersons and would not contact them for an explanation on the matter.
“Not attending the state assembly sitting is normal for politicians … I will not persuade them to come [tomorrow],” he said, avoiding many questions posed by members of the press.
Asked on the senior government officer who was linked to the SMS, Ahmad said he left it to the police to take further action as the three assemblypersons had reported the matter.
The three-day Terengganu state assembly sitting will end tomorrow.