Syed Jaymal Zahiid, The Malaysian Insider
Uncertainty hangs over Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim’s political future in Selangor as sources in Pakatan Rakyat (PR) have indicated that the first-term mentri besar could lose his post even if the pact retains the state in Election 2013.
The PKR leadership has so far refrained from confirming if Khalid would be selected to defend his seat, in light of growing anger among locals who purportedly view the politician as an “absent” representative.
The Malaysian Insider understands the party leadership had also, at one point, considered dropping Khalid as its Ijok candidate following concerns that the mentri besar could lose the seat.
“Locals see him as an absent representative, that he is never around so there is a perception. Sometimes we understand that he is the MB but even his people are never around so it’s hard to work on the ground,” a high ranking PR leader told The Malaysian Insider.
Talks that Khalid would be dropped first surfaced when PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced in October last year that the former would remain as PKR’s Bandar Tun Razak parliamentary candidate but did not state if Khalid (picture) would defend Ijok.
The announcement fuelled suspicion that the party was planning to replace him with current PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, who had purportedly vied for the post.
It also invited accusations that to placate Khalid, Anwar would promise him a federal post should the PR wrest Putrajaya.
“Did he state if Khalid would contest for Ijok? No he did not. You can make your own assumption,” said one PKR official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
PKR secretary-general Datuk Saifudin Nasution, who sits on the party’s candidate listing committee, dismissed the rumour as baseless but did not confirm if the party’s plan to revamp its Selangor state-level line-up would exclude Khalid.
“I am very aware of every detail and there was no such thing. The party’s committee on candidacy chaired by Anwar is still engaging state level leaders on this matter,” he told The Malaysian Insider when asked to verify claims that PKR had once considered dropping Khalid from Ijok.
Spurring rumours of Khalid’s removal are problems afflicting the local PKR machinery.
Sources said Khalid has not been able to campaign effectively following the ongoing animosity between him and key campaign staff members, which has purportedly left the machinery near-paralysed.
There were talks that local leaders had refused to cooperate after Khalid rejected their demands for “payment” in return for their loyalty, as well as claims that Khalid’s poor communication skills and “arrogance” had triggered the rift.
PKR’s Ijok machinery chief staff Abdul Rahman Umar shrugged off the allegations but admitted that the central leadership has yet to confirm if Khalid would contest for the seat again.
“There is no confirmation...but we did nominate Tan Sri Khalid for Ijok,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
Abdul Rahman, a popular local figure known as Cikgu Rahman, explained the perception that the machinery was not with Khalid may have come from the drop in its campaign pace since April last year after there was no indication that elections would be held last year.
“Now we know the elections is near we have start working. Ijok is a small kampung (countryside) community. They will help. When the time comes they will help,” Abdul Rahman said.