Nizar says that Zambry is facing the next general election with weak support from voters and his own party.

KUALA LUMPUR: When former Perak menteri besar Mohamad Nizar Jamaluddin was abruptly bumped off his ministerial perch in the coup d’etat of February 2009, he made it his business to keep a watchful eye on his usurper, Zambry Abd Kadir.

Zambry, who saw himself as Perak’s rightful menteri besar, was said to have exuded confidence during his first year of reign there despite the bedlam that accompanied his appointment.

To Pakatan’s chagrin he sought to boost his popularity by delivering on the promises that Pakatan had made but hadn’t yet implemented.

He was even reported to have parroted Nizar’s term of “people friendly policies” in focusing on poverty eradication across all racial communities.

But one year later it appeared that neither Zambry nor BN had managed to stamp a solid enough presence among the Perak electorate.

A poll by independent research firm, Merdeka Centre, in 2010 found that Zambry had a 43% approval rating to Nizar’s 46%. And apparently not much has changed since then.

According to Nizar, Zambry is saddled with three significant demerits that will likely form the trajectory of his impending downfall. The first of these demerits is Zambry’s solitary battle against Umno for the rule over Perak.

“Zambry doesn’t have the support of state party members because Perak is being ruled by Umno and not him,” Nizar told FMT. “And the reason for him being sidelined is because of his very small tinge of nobility.”

“Zambry’s Islamic background has given him a sense of right and wrong. But such a trait has earned him the disdain of Umno state lawmakers and will eventually get him booted out.”

Nizar said that Zambry had strived to portray himself as more than just a political figure by taking seriously the numerous cases of improper conduct within the state assembly. But this, he added, had saved Zambry’s reputation at Umno’s expense.

The Bukit Gantang MP also dropped a reminder that Zambry wasn’t Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s choice. His appointment therefore sparked discontent within the federal and state leadership and naturally, within Najib himself.

“The proposed chief minister was a senior Umno member and her name was put forward but (former premier) Abdullah (Badawi) intervened at the last minute to propose Zambry,” Nizar said.

Throwing money

Speculation prior to Zambry’s appointment had identified Hamidah Osman, the current Perak Tourism executive councillor, as Nizar’s replacement.

“This is one of the reasons that Zambry went with Najib to perform the haj last month,” Nizar stated. “Before Najib left he made a statement that the candidates for Perak seats must be winnable and comprise new faces who don’t necessarily hold portfolios at division level.”

“When Najib returned he changed his position and said that it doesn’t matter who the candidates are as long as they are winnable.”

Nizar concluded that Najib’s previous statement had caused disgruntlement among Perak Umno lawmakers. Three quarters of them are veterans who are holding their post for a third consecutive term.

“If Najib is looking for new faces who don’t necessarily hold division-level portfolios then they will be automatically chucked out,” Nizar pointed out. “So they pressured Zambry. His private word with Najib was a move to appease them and win their support.”

Zambry landed his final demerit, Nizar said, from the toes he stepped on in his desire to build his own empire. Nizar described the Pangkor assemblyman as behaving like man who has been given three months to live.

“Zambry may have seen that BN’s lifespan in Perak is nearing its end and is maximising all efforts to optimise his gains,” Nizar said.

“DAP has received feedback from various small time contractors – including MCA-linked ones – that they have been encouraged to request for any state government contract at the maximum price.”

Nizar also said that he had brought up in the recent state assembly sitting the fact that Zambry’s Hari Raya High Tea was provided by a caterer that charged RM80 a head.

He claimed that 10,000 people were invited and the bill was so astronomical that the finance officer refused to issue payment.

“I raised this issue because I wanted him to prove that it was a mere allegation,” Nizar said. “Zambry has promised to provide an explanation and we’re still waiting.”

The Pasir Panjang assemblyman is also questioning both Zambry and Hamidah over a RM45,000 expenditure for plastic flowers supplied by a single vendor during the Visit Perak Year campaign launched on Jan 3.

“They would usually spend only RM10,000 but now they are throwing money at contractors,” Nizar observed. “Hence why I said that BN’s lifespan in Perak is nearing its end.”

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