GEORGE TOWN, Dec 1 - Penang Deputy Chief Minister I Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin today ruled out talk that the PKR leadership is replacing him soon.
According to Fairus he was not informed by either PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim or the party leadership that he was being removed from his position.
He said that he learnt that it was only Seberang Jaya assemblyman, Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah, who has made statements to the effect and if there was going to be a change, he would have been duly informed by the party higher ups.
Saying that he was happy and welcomed Arif Shah, he did not think that the Sebarang Jaya assemblyman would take his place.
Recent news reports have quoted Arif Shah as saying that he might leave Umno for the Pakatan Rakyat state government.
Arif Shah, who is the only BN elected rep in the Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency, is said to be not on talking terms with the Permatang Pauh Umno division chief Datuk Abdul Jalil Abdul Majid.
Arif Shah took on Anwar in the recent Permatang Pauh by-election. He has described the latter as his "master" and friend when the former was the Umno Permatang Pauh division chairman and he was the division Youth chief.
Fairus lashed out at Arif Shah for making an "irresponsible, improper and politically immature" statement in the media.
He said that since the day he was appointed, certain quarters have been trying to "pull me down". He added that he was the youngest Deputy Chief Minister in the history of Malaysian politics and this sparked "jealousy".
He also added that the it was the people who voted him in and that they will not get rid of him because he is a fighter and would not retreat.
Fairus is the Penanti assemblyman who has been plagued by accusations of under-performing.
"We are a new government. I was only elected eight months ago and am still learning and improving," he said, adding that the process would "take time".
Meanwhile, State Gerakan chairman Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan said Arif Shah's leaving Barisan was an "internal Umno matter" and had to be settled by Umno.
Ties between Umno and Gerakan in Penang remained severed since Gerakan broke off the its affiliations on Sept 8 at the height of the controversy over allegedly racist remarks by suspended Bukit Bendera Umno division chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said it was up to PKR to decide if they wanted Fairus replaced as the position of Deputy Chief Minister I had been promised to the party.