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Friday, April 10, 2009

> Guessing game for DCM post

A week before Anwar Ibrahim makes up is mind on his choice for the vacant deputy chief minister’s post in the Penang government, the guessing game is still on.

Although it appears certain that PKR's Sungai Bakap assemblyperson Maktar Shapee will fill in the executive councillor’s post, vacated by Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin, who will take over the DCM 1 post is still unclear.  

The post, a PKR quota in the Penang government, was also vacated by Mohd Fairus.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng declined to comment on the matter at his press conference in Penang this morning, except to say that Anwar has asked for a week to decide on the issue.

“I have left it to Anwar to choose the party’s nominee. It's PKR slot," said Lim.

Abdul Malik the favourite

What is clear is that the DCM 1 post has to be given to a Malay. In that sense, the contenders can be narrowed down to between Maktar Shapee 60, and current executive councillor Abdul Malik Kassim 54.

A former corporate figure, Abdul Malik is in charge of domestic trade and consumer affairs, and Islamic religious affairs,

Although Abdul Malik (left) appears to be the favourite to take over as the new DCM 1, there are talks that his alleged involvement in the ousting of Mohd Fairus may not go down well within Penang PKR. 

Because of this, Anwar could opt for the less controversial Maktar who is also keen to be deputy chief minister.

Since the day Fairus assumed the DCM and exco positions last year, he had been a subject of ridicule in certain blogsites, allegedly linked to certain Penang PKR leaders.

Abdul Malik was said to have been dragged in the issue and linked to the blogsites since he would be the person benefitting directly from Fairus's downfall.

Evidence has already been tabled before Anwar on the alleged link between Malik and those involved in the 'anti-Fairus' blogspots.

Even though Anwar had attempted to water down the rivalry between Fairus and Malikat numerous private meetings, his attempts were in vain.

When Fairus's alleged link with illegal quarry operations emerged, the 33-year-old Penanti man finally succumbed to pressure and tendered his resignation on March 21.

His resignation from both DCM and exco posts is effective April 8. His official car was taken back by the state government yesterday.

Anwar's assurance 

Fairus was also speculated to have tendered his resignation as Penanti assemblyperson on March 21, triggering talk of a by-election soon in Penang.

But Anwar immediately assured state Pakatan leaders that Fairus would firmly remain as a PKR elected representative, quashing  rumours that the Penanti man would declare himself as an independent assemblyperson and seek protection from Barisan Nasional to save him from the on-going graft investigation by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC).

MACC officials have also taken statements from Lim, DCM II Dr P Ramasamy and executive councillor Phee Boon Poh.

Fairus is now in his in-law's house in Johor with his pregnant wife, who is expected to deliver in the next few days.

Asked whether Anwar has a preference, Lim only said that he was prepared to work with anyone able to contribute effectively to his administration.
"I think everyone can contribute. Let's allow Anwar to indicate his choice and we move from there."

PKR has three executive councillors in the Penang government. The rest came from DAP - The Malaysian Insider.