Monday, December 5, 2011

Nik Aziz not ready to call it quits

Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat is turning 80 but he is yet to call it quits.

The Kelantan menteri besar and PAS spiritual leader declared yesterday he will be contesting in the coming general election.

Whether this is a calculated decision or one made at the spur of the moment in retort to calls from Umno for his retirement remains to be seen.

The question remains, though, if he will stay on as menteri besar.

“Yes, we do have a succession plan but it would be unfair for us to comment before Tok Guru has made his decision on him remaining as menteri besar,” said PAS vice-president Datuk Mahfuz Omar.

Tok Guru, as Nik Abdul Aziz is fondly called, said there was no reason for him to step down as suggested by several delegates at the Umno general assembly last week.

“God willing, I will contest against Umno and I am not concerned if people mentioned my name at the assembly,” he was reported by Bernama as saying.

Mahfuz said the octogenarian’s age should not be an issue.

“There are many places where the young are given opportunities to contest but only in that seat (Chempaka) do we have an old person,” he said when contacted.

Another vice president, Salahuddin Ayub, said that as a party leader and elected representative, it was Nik Abdul Aziz’s prerogative to decide when he should ride off into the sunset.

“As long as the people want him then he should contest. His age should not be a problem as long as his health permits. Tok Guru is still healthy and his leadership is still needed,” he said.

Salahuddin said although the young should be given the opportunity to move up the ranks, one must also value a person’s ability and effectiveness.

“If a person is young but useless then there is no point,” he said.

“Tok Guru’s influence is still important. We will let him decide if he still wants to remain as Kelantan’s menteri besar.”

While the common consensus was to back the leader, Nik Abdul Aziz himself seems to acknowledge that his days are numbered, and also perhaps due to pressure from within his own party, had embarked on a succession plan – assuming PAS retains the State it has controlled for 21 years.

The name of Panchor assemblyman Datuk Nik Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah has been bandied about as a possible successor as the menteri besar.

Datuk Husam Musa is also a possible successor.

However, the calls for Nik Abdul Aziz’s resignation are not limited to Umno. In 2009, there were calls from within his own party – including Nik Mohd Amar – to quit following the controversy surrounding his son-in-law.

The conflict of interest from Ariffahmi Abdul Rahman’s appointment as CEO of State-owned Kelantan Menteri Besar Incorporated (KMBI) was apparent to everyone, except Nik Abdul Aziz who saw it as a “non-issue”.

A pilgrimage he undertook paid by a businessman seeking a contract with the State government almost cost him his post as menteri besar.

He also had an open spat with PAS president Datuk Abdul Hadi Awang two years ago with regards to Abdul Hadi’s push for unity talks with Umno.

Appointed MB after 1990 polls

* Nik Abdul Aziz turns 80 on Jan 10.
* He became the Kelantan menteri besar after the 1990 general election.
* In the 2008 general election, he defended the Chempaka State seat against Umno’s Datuk Dr Nik Mohd Zain Omar with a 4,249-vote majority.

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