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By-election looms in Kedah, as minister's death leaves a vacant seat
Publication Date : 27-09-2013
Azizan Abdul Razak, who led the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) to an unprecedented win in the Malay heartland state of Kedah, then saw it slip from his grasp amid bickering within the ranks, has died from heart complications after months in hospital.
The former state chief and Kedah commissioner of PAS reportedly suffered a heart attack at the Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital in Penang on Wednesday and died on Friday.
His death will trigger a by-election for his Sungai Limau state seat, which will offer up the first test for new Kedah state chief, Barisan Nasional's (BN) Mukhriz Mahathir, the son of former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad. Mukhriz will be leading the BN charge to take the PAS stronghold.
Azizan, 69, was in poor health throughout his term helming the state from 9 March 2008 to May 6 this year due to diabetes and heart problems.
That, as well as infighting, contributed to Kedah falling back to BN at the May general election after just one term of PAS rule.
"We could see that the leadership lacked competency, especially those holding exco positions and this created dissatisfaction among those who think they can do a better job," said Abdul Ghapa Harun, a political analyst at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
Kedah's sluggish economic development did not help and non-Muslim voters were also put off when the state tried to ban discos and karaokes for everyone during Ramadan in 2011.
Despite his illness during the election campaign, Azizan retained the Sungai Limau state seat, beating three opponents with a 2,700 majority. A by-election must be held within 60 days after the seat is declared vacant by the state legislature.
Azizan was admitted to a private hospital in Penang a day after the elections and transferred to Penang Hospital the same day. Doctors amputated his legs below the knees on May 9.
He was moved to the Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital last month instead of back to Kedah after his doctor said he was not strong enough for the journey.