Mahathir's son Mukhriz agrees to resign as Kedah chief minister

PETALING JAYA - Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir is believed to have agreed to resign after a dramatic fortnight full of political twists and turns.

The pressure on Mukhriz reached a new level yesterday when he was asked for the third time in a week to sign the resignation letter.

Highly-placed sources indicated that Mukhriz was presented with the prepared resignation letter a little after 6pm.

The third attempt to have him sign the letter came after the three members of the Regency Council huddled in a closed-door discussion among themselves in the Regency Council office located at Wisma Darul Aman. After that, the state secretary and the state legal adviser met with Mukhriz regarding the resignation letter.

The under-sieged mentri besar is believed to have agreed to go although it could not be established at press time whether he has actually signed the letter.

However, the Regency Council is still adamant against accepting Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah as the replacement. Ahmad Bashah is the deputy state Umno chairman, a senator and ­deputy minister.

The royal council is said to prefer Guar Chempedak assemblyman Datuk Dr Ku Rahman Ku Ismail who has a PhD from a British university.

It is understood that the Prime Minister has been in touch with Tunku Temenggong Tunku Sallehud­din ibni Almarhum Sultan Badlishah, the head of the Regency Council, to iron out the details. The Regency Council has had a dramatic few days that included meeting all the Kedah assemblymen in Alor Setar as the media camped outside waiting for news on the latest development on the crisis.

The royal body had earlier taken the unusual step of calling for individual meetings with all 15 opposition assemblymen in the afternoon to assess their opinion on whether they were with or against the mentri besar.

The session did not produce any surprises and ended after only an hour with all of them believed to have expressed a common preference for a special state legislative assembly sitting to determine Mukhriz’s position.

There are eight assemblymen from PAS, four from PKR, two from DAP and one from Amanah.

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail had earlier set the tone when she stated that the Opposition preferred an assembly sitting to put the matter to a vote.

The Regency Council, which represents Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah who is also the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, comprises the Agong’s two brothers and his daughter.

Throughout the whole of yesterday, the Kedah Barisan Nasional leaders and politicians were holed up at the Alora Hotel, with some of them expecting the worst.

But shortly before the maghrib prayer, their mood lightened when word came that there had been a breakthrough and Mukhriz had agreed to resign.

An announcement on the likely end of the crisis is expected to be announced this morning.

The session with the Opposition members came a day after the royal body met individually with 19 of the 21 Barisan assemblymen.

The 19 assemblymen had signed statutory declarations last week stating that they would go along with the leadership’s decision to replace the mentri besar.

However, Mukhriz had argued that some of those who signed did it under duress, prompting the Regency Council to take matters into its own hands.

During the royal body’s meeting with the Barisan side, two assemblymen were believed to have expressed support for Mukhriz. They are Datuk Suraya Yaakob (Sungai Tiang) and Datuk Norsabrina Mohd Noor (Bandar Baharu), who are also state exco members.

However, sources said Norsa­brina had changed her mind and elected to toe the party line.

Mukhriz also has the undivided support of another state exco member Datuk Aminuddin Omar.

The crisis erupted after the leaders of 14 Umno divisions in the state held a press conference on Jan 20 to declare that they had lost confidence in Mukhriz’s leadership.