Updated on 11 Feb 2009 at 3.35pm
A dozen riot police outside the state secretariat building prior to the BN excos’ arrivals, even though there was not a
single protestor in sight.
IPOH, 11 Feb 2009: Newly-appointed Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir has appointed three advisors to assist him in running the Barisan Nasional (BN)-led state government.
Speaking at a press conference after he and his newly-appointed state executive council (exco) members reported for work at the state secretariat building at 10am this morning, Zambry said the three advisors would have the same status as exco members.
They are (Rtd) Capt Datuk Najmuddin Elias Al-Hafiz who will assist the menteri besar in religious matters; Datuk Chang Ko Youn who will be advisor on Chinese Malaysian affairs; and Datuk S Veerasingam who will be the special advisor for Indian Malaysian community affairs.
Najmuddin was the political secretary to former Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohd Tajol Rosli Ghazali and is the Batu Kurau assemblyperson. Chang is Gerakan deputy president and Perak Gerakan chief while Veerasingam is MIC vice-president.
Veerasingam’s appointment is seen as the solution to the lack of Indian Malaysian representation in the Perak BN government.
“This ends the issue of there being no Indian [Malaysian] elected representative,” Veerasingam told reporters later.
Zambry waves to press photographers as he arrives
Additionally, Zambry appointed Datuk Hamdi Abu Bakar as the state information chief. Hamdi is responsible for disseminating information from the state to citizens.
In an immediate response, embattled Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin said the appointment of Chang and Veerasingam as advisors with exco standing was illegal and an abuse of power and public funds because they were not elected representatives.
“The Perak state constitution also does not provide for such appointments,” he said.
Both Chang and Veerasingam contested in the March 2008 general election but lost. Chang contested in the Beruas parliamentary seat and lost to DAP Perak chief Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham by a 1,828 majority. Veerasingam ran in the Sungkai state seat but lost to DAP candidate N Sivanesan by 1,454 votes.
Zambry also confirmed the portfolios for himself and the six exco members who were sworn in yesterday before Perak Ruler, Sultan Azlan Shah.
Zambry (seated) with his exco line up and appointed advisors, clockwise Saarani (with glasses), Hamdi,
Veerasingam, Chang, Hamidah, Mohd Zahir, Dr Mah, and Zainol Fadzi. Ramly is not pictured.
They are as follows:
Zambry — housing, planning, economy, finance, safety, land, resources, agriculture and religion
Mohd Zahir Abdul Khalid — education, higher education, science and technology
Zainol Fadzi Paharudin — art, culture, youth and sport
Datuk Ramly Zahari — infrastructure, public amenities, water and energy
Dr Mah Hang Soon — health, local government, consumer affairs, environment, public transport and non-Muslim affairs
Hamidah Osman — industry, investments, entrepreneur development, ICT, tourism and women affairs
Datuk Saarani Mohamad — rural development, poverty eradication, commodities and welfare
The six exco who were sworn in yesterday were four shy of the 10 exco positions that were filled up under the Pakatan Rakyat. Hence, Zambry’s appointment of advisors is seen as a way to shore up his administration.
No emergency sitting
Zambry deflected questions about whether he would end the political impasse of “two MBs in one state” by calling for an emergency sitting of the state assembly so that a vote could be taken to determine who had the most support of the house, hence ending the political impasse.
“Under the law, we only have to convene the state assembly six months from the previous one,” he said.
That means the state assembly will next meet in April.
Chang was, however, more direct. “Why should we do that (call for an emergency sitting)? Why should we take a vote? Nizar is already out (because the Sultan has already decided).”
Zambry greeting state civil servants, some of whom had gathered in the Menteri Besar’s office to welcome him
On 7 Feb, state assembly Speaker V Sivakumar, from the DAP, submitted two letters to Sultan Azlan Shah seeking permission to convene an emergency sitting so that the house could show through a vote who it most supported.
It is, however, unlikely that the Sultan will now grant that request.
To another question about whether the BN government would continue the policies of the Pakatan Rakyat government, Zambry said: “It was Pakatan Rakyat who continued BN policies when they took over (after the March 2008 elections).”
Battling negative perception
A defensive Zambry took questions from the press on some points regarding support for the new BN government. The following are excerpts from the press conference:
Q: Is there any policy by the Pakatan government that you will continue?
A: They have also continued our (BN) policies. You must remember that many polices they have announced, were actually our policies. Most important is not your policy or my policy but that the policy is for the betterment of the rakyat.
Q: When are you going to your house?
A: Oh, the “white house”? I hope it doesn’t become the green house (in reference to PAS’s colours). I have said before, let’s not fight over becoming MB because you want to stay in the official residence or get the big cars. I am confident the rakyat will judge his (Nizar’s) behaviour.
Zambry speaking to the press
Q: How do you feel because Nizar still claims he’s the MB?
A: He shouldn’t behave like a child. It has been decided, the prerogative is the Sultan’s, and Tuanku has decided and he (Nizar) should show undivided loyalty towards the Sultan.
Q: Do you feel you have the support of the majority of Perakians?
A: That’s why we are here.
Q: But your current appointment, and BN forming the state government wasn’t through an election.
A: What do you mean? It is a democratic process. Do you understand the democratic process? Do you understand the political philosophy of democracy? I’m asking you back. Why are you not asking them (Pakatan Rakyat) [this] when they were talking about party-hopping? When they started everything. You should ask yourself first about that.
Q: The question is not about party hopping but whether you have the people’s support.
A: God’s will, Insyallah, when you prove to the people your worth.
Q: There are concerns about Jelapang assemblyperson Hee Yit Foong (who has received many threats). Are you confident she can conduct her work safely? Will you guarantee her safety?
A: This is our responsibility. This is Malaysia. We have to respect each other’s right. However much difference you might have, this is our peaceful country. Please, I call on everyone, please preserve it.