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Johor MB under fire for appointing ‘Umno trash’ as secretary

Malay Mail logo Malay Mail 5 days ago Ben Tan
The official swearing-in ceremony of the new state councillors, led by newly-minted mentri besar Datuk Osman Sapian, is expected to be held tomorrow at the Istana Besar here. — Picture by Hari Anggara © Provided by Malay Mail The official swearing-in ceremony of the new state councillors, led by newly-minted mentri besar Datuk Osman Sapian, is expected to be held tomorrow at the Istana Besar here. — Picture by Hari Anggara

Osman has come under fire for choosing former Kota Tinggi district council president Fizwan Rashidi as his private secretary . — Picture by Hari Anggara

JOHOR BARU, May 16 — Cracks have started to appear in the new Johor state government, following mentri besar Datuk Osman Sapian’s choice of his private secretary — a person close to the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government and believed to be an Umno member.

Former Kota Tinggi district council president Fizwan Rashidi has been seconded as Osman’s private secretary effective yesterday, according to a Johor Civil Service transfer notice sighted by Malay Mail.

A Pakatan Harapan (PH) source said the appointment of Fizwan has upset many in the pact who now question the government’s commitment to uphold its integrity.

“Even though he is out of Umno, he is still considered ‘Umno trash’ by us who had struggled for a change. It is obvious that he doesn't understand the people’s desire for a clean and transparent administration,” a ranking PH source told Malay Mail, referring to Fizwan.

“We hope the Johor mentri besar can be more sensitive towards such matters as the public knew who Fizwan is.”

The source also said this was the second time that this has happened, following the earlier application by three Umno assemblymen who wanted to defect to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) on Saturday.

“These three Umno assemblymen were once hardcore party supporters and their sudden eagerness to defect made even PPBM members unhappy,” said the source.

He added that these defectors are not needed in PH anyway, as they were previously strongly opposed against the coalition when they were with the then ruling government.

Another PH source believed Fizwan’s appointment was connected to the three Umno assemblymen: Rasman Ithnain (Sedili), Rosleli Jahari (Johor Lama) and Alawiyah Talib (Endau).

“Fizwan is known to Rasman who was the Kota Tinggi Umno deputy division chief and Rosleli, the division’s secretary,” said the source, adding that Johor PPBM was at risk of turning into “Umno 2.0 or BN 2.0”.

Both Umno assemblymen are known to be closely aligned to the Kota Tinggi Umno division chief and businessman Datuk Daing A. Malek Daing A. Rahman.

Alawiyah, on the other hand, was Mersing Umno Wanita chief. She is linked closely to the party’s former strongman and ex-state executive councillor Datuk Abd Latif Bandi, who has been charged with 21 counts of money laundering amounting to RM35.78 million in connection with the Johor land scandal that broke out last year.

In response, Johor PKR deputy chief Jimmy Phua Wee Tse admitted he was aware of the grassroots sentiments among PH members regarding the recent appointment of Rashidi as the Johor mentri besar’s private secretary.

“The various component parties under PH will need to discuss this matter urgently as such a situation will obviously go against the coalition’s reform agenda that has been promoted to ensure a fair and accountable government,” he said.

Phua, who is also the Bukit Batu assemblyman and is expected to be appointed into the executive council today, urged the public as well as PH supporters to give them time in forming the state government first.

“We will do what we can to advise Datuk Osman as such matters can weaken the people’s trust in the state government,” he said, referring to PH leaders.

“At the same time, I believe we must also take into account the public views and sentiments.”

DAP’s Perling assemblyman Cheo Yee How agreed with Phua and said that all PH component parties have agreed to uphold the reform agenda.

In the election, PH seized the southern state by taking 36 out of the state’s 56 seats.

DAP took the biggest chunk by winning 14 state seats in Johor, followed by Parti Amanah Negara (9), PPBM (8) and PKR (5).

Umno, representing the sole Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, only secured 19 seats in a historic defeat that saw MCA and MIC decimated in the state seats stake. PAS only won one seat.

Both BN and PAS will be the new Opposition bloc in the state legislative assembly once it convenes.

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