UP UNTIL last weekend, former chief minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron was still denying that he was involved in a coup to topple the Umno-led state government in Melaka.
But as they say, never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.
And sure enough, on Monday (Oct 4) afternoon, Idris announced that he and three other assemblymen were pulling their support from the state government.
It was a killer stroke by Idris and with that, the Melaka government collapsed like a house of cards, being left with only 13 seats in the 28-seat state assembly.
Idris, by most accounts, is about to return as Melaka Chief Minister in a government of strange bedfellows.
“Yes, we can confirm that Melaka has fallen. Sulaiman (Chief Minister Datuk Seri Sulaiman Md Ali) should respect the state constitution and tender his resignation.
“He has lost the confidence of the assembly, he should go by the precedent set by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin after he lost the majority in Parliament,” said Hang Tuah Jaya MP Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar, who is also PKR information chief.
Shamsul said Pakatan leaders will seek an audience with the Governor Tun Ali Rustam to offer their candidate for the chief minister post.
Ali is reported to be undergoing self-quarantine after coming into close contact with a Covid-19 case and requests by political leaders for an audience have been unsuccessful so far.
On the other hand, there is also a possibility that the ousted chief minister may attempt to dissolve the state assembly and call for a state election.
But the window for him to do that may have closed because the chief minister has lost the majority and is no longer in a position to advise the Governor on a dissolution.
Idris told The Star that he had an appointment with Ali Rustam on Friday (Oct 1) afternoon to discuss issues on climate change.
But when he arrived at the Governor’s residence, he found a big padlock on the gate and was told that the appointment had been cancelled.
“I have never seen the Governor’s gate padlocked in all my years as an assemblyman,” said Idris, who was a one-time protege of Mohd Ali.
Of course, most people think that climate change was the last thing on Idris’ mind that afternoon.
The talk was that he had gone there with enough statutory declarations to form a new state government and the speculation spread like wild fire.
It has been a week of high political drama.
It will be Melaka’s third change of government in as many years and if that is is not strange enough, we are seeing a former chief minister from Umno leading the charge against another Umno chief minister.
The other irony is that the ousted chief minister was a former top aide to Idris when he was chief minister. They were very close but the friendship is over.
At a superficial level, the coup seems to be a tit-for-tat kind of move. Pakatan is taking back what was a democratically elected government until it was toppled in 2020.
But what pushed Idris over the edge, to abandon his own party and to work with the enemy?
Idris has claimed that he wants to work with a coalition that is more racially representative of the ethnic make-up of Melaka.
Those in the know said the fall of the state government is partly due to the clash of personalities and egos.
Although Idris was appointed a state exco member, he felt that Umno leaders in the state continued to treat him like a black sheep.
He was blamed for Umno’s defeat and called all sort of names like “bodoh” (stupid), “haprak” (no standard), and “sombong” (arrogant).
On top of that, he clashed with state Umno chief Datuk Seri Rauf Yusoh, who had moved into the power vacuum to become a powerful figure in the state government.
A hint of just how powerful Rauf is – his nickname among Umno people in Melaka is “King” although his detractors call him “King Kong” because of his physique.
Rauf, who is the state assembly speaker, is seen as more powerful than the chief minister.
He is one of those people whom you do not “play play” with.
When Umno and Bersatu ganged up to take over the state government in the wake of the Sheraton Move, Rauf reportedly ignored Muhyiddin’s recommendation of a Bersatu man for chief minister and went ahead to install Sulaiman for the job.
Idris was also eyeing the post and must have felt wounded to be sidelined.
In fact, throughout this drama, not a single Umno leader from Melaka or at the national level called Idris to speak to him or to persuade him not to join the other side.
“Not even a text message from them, but it’s okay, I’m used to it,” said Idris.
Even if he makes a comeback, it will be a pyrrhic victory and he will probably be sacked from Umno. But the sense of revenge will be sweet.
Congratulations have been pouring in for the Pakatan side but PKR’s Machap Jaya assemblyman Ginnie Lim Siew Lin is staying level-headed amid the euphoria.
“You know what politics is like these days. We have the numbers but the next step depends on what happens at the level of the Governor,” said Lim.
By Joceline Tan