Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir’s (pic) experience in the Kedah political crisis shows that the party is always bigger than the individual, no matter how famous the person or his family may be.
DATUK Seri Mukhriz Mahathir kept his composure throughout his last day as Kedah Mentri Besar.
The smile did not leave his face, not even when several of the staff broke down as he said goodbye to them.
He gave a brief speech to them and then headed to the conference room where the press was waiting for him.
The end had finally come after weeks of big-time politics intertwined with Palace intrigue.
Mukhriz had held on for as long as he could after the Kedah Umno leaders mutinied against him.
But deep in his heart, he must have known there was no way a mentri besar could survive, especially in a state like Kedah, without the support of the Federal leadership.
His brief and defiant fight to stay on had been possible because he is said to enjoy the support of one of the three members of the Regency Council tasked with making the final decision of the change of mentri besar.
Had he persisted, he would not even be able to chair a state exco meeting because he no longer had a quorum after one of the three exco members who were with him jumped ship.
His own ship sank on Tuesday afternoon when it became clear that the group against him had 18 assemblymen against three from his camp and 15 opposition assemblymen.
Kedah has 36 seats which meant that it was a hung situation of 18 versus 18.
The Speaker of the state assembly stepped in and cast his lot with the group that wanted Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah and it was all over for Mukhriz.
He finally agreed to resign at about 6.30pm on Tuesday. Even then, it was not until 11pm that the Regency Council finally came around to accepting Ahmad Bashah as the next mentri besar.
As Mukhriz prepared to face the media yesterday, he turned to state exco member Datuk Suraya Yaacob and said: “Suraya, you can leave if you want to, this will not be good for you.”
But Suraya and exco member Datuk Aminuddin Omar, the only two still with him, stayed on.
Mukhriz delivered a blistering statement to say his ouster came because he criticised the Prime Minister on the 1MDB issue.
But truth be told, that was only a part of his problems. Mukhriz had a good people image and got off to a good start in 2013. He was able to say and do the right things.
He also played his part as the Islamic leader, donning a jubah and giving funds tosekolah pondokthat are a part of Kedah politics.
However, by his second year, the political grapevine was going on that he was a “part-time MB” who spent more time in Kuala Lumpur than Alor Setar.
Some of them labelled him a “billboard MB” because they only got to see him on billboards in the town.
He did not put enough time into party work and was unable to work with the Kedah party leaders.
One thing led to another and, finally, there was the political mutiny.
His glamorous wife Datin Seri Norzieta Zakaria, who continued to live in Kuala Lumpur, only started to look for a house to rent in Alor Setar the last few weeks but it was too late.
Mukhriz had lived in Seri Mentaloon, the official Mentri Besar residence.
He was the first mentri besar to do so and it was brave of him because there have been all sorts of spooky stories of spirits and demons in the grand colonial mansion.
It was not a lucky abode given the way things turned out.
Mukhriz’s argument that he would not step down because he has the people’s support does not really hold water.
If that was the case, PKR’s Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim would still be Selangor mentri besar today.
The reality is that the party put him there as the mentri besar and if the party pulls out its support, his position as mentri besar becomes shaky.
In his case, he had lost the support of not only the Umno warlords in Kedah but also his own party president.
Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, who flew in from Kuala Lumpur, was waiting for Mukhriz when he arrived at their old family home in Titi Gajah where friends and supporters had gathered.
It was quite an emotional moment when his mother consoled him with a hug.
The “big M”, as some Kedah reporters call Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, was not around but he later let go another scathing blog attack on the 1MDB issue.
Mukhriz had not told his family about the resignation and Dr Siti Hasmah apparently learnt about it only on Wednesday morning and phoned his staff for details.
The odd man out at the house was PAS MP for Pokok Sena Datuk Mahfuz Omar who seems to be trying to jump on any bandwagon available.
Umno members think he is seeking cheap publicity because he has been trying to be photographed alongside Mukhriz.
Suraya was also at the Titi Gajah house but only for a while.
The Prime Minister’s officers had blasted her: “You are here, you are there, you bang us from the front, from the back. What is going on with you?”
Suraya, who is a lawyer with connections to the Kedah Palace, said she wanted to do the right thing.
She said she had nothing personal against Ahmad Bashah. They are quite close and she had introduced Ahmad Bashah’s daughter to her future husband, a Pakistani, when the two families went for the umrah several years ago.
“I knew Mukhriz could not survive long. He never pressured me to support him, I did it because I felt it was the right thing. I never attended any of his gatherings or demonstrations, I did not go to his house to show support,” said Suraya.
Yesterday as Suraya left the Titi Gajah house, she told Mukhriz: “Thank you boss. I won’t be at the airport to send you off. My duty is done.”
Mukhriz, his mum and wife left Alor Setar for home via a Firefly flight at about 4.15pm yesterday. The journey ends here – for now.