MALAYSIA’S coalition government on Thursday won a tussle for control of an opposition-held state, as the sultan of northern Perak consented to its campaign to seize power.

State media said that Sultan Azlan Shah has refused the opposition’s request to dissolve the state parliament, after its narrow majority was snatched away when four lawmakers defected.

The royal ruler has asked chief minister Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin and his executive council to resign and if they do not, the posts ‘are considered vacant,’ the official news agency Bernama reported.

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak had earlier petitioned the sultan to give his blessing to the Barisan Nasional coalition’s bid to take control of the state assembly which the opposition won in general elections last March.

The opposition had held 32 seats in the 59-seat assembly, with Barisan Nasional holding 27. Mr Najib said one of the defectors would join the coalition and the others would be independent but support the government.

‘I have met with the sultan and informed him that Barisan is ready to take over the state government as we have the majority support,’ Mr Najib said after the meeting.

Perak is among five states captured by the Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance in last year’s general elections, along with a third of seats in the national parliament, in its best ever electoral performance.

The victory in Perak is a huge coup for Mr Najib, who is to replace unpopular premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi next March, and will boost his credentials within the ruling party which has been in crisis since the 2008 polls.

The win follows two losses in parliamentary by-elections which were seen as a sign that the coalition has failed to claw back support following the elections.

But analysts have warned Perak could be an empty victory for Barisan Nasional because voters could see the move as undemocratic and more of the old-style dirty politics that were rejected at the ballot box last year. — AFP