Penang, Selangor decisions hinge on Anwar

(The Malaysian Insider) – Both the Pakatan Rakyat governments in Penang and Selangor will make crucial decisions for their executive councils today, and it is all up to one man – Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The PKR de facto leader will have to nominate a new deputy chief minister I for Penang and decide whether to reject or accept Elizabeth Wong’s resignation from her government post and Bukit Lanjan seat.

It is understood that Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng has yet to get any word from Anwar although there are only two logical choices.

Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim is holding an executive council meeting, ostensibly to discuss Wong’s fate.

But PKR sources say Anwar has the final say and might just accept her resignations to prevent the party from being attacked on moral grounds.

While some PAS lawmakers have come to Wong’s defence, it is learnt that the party leadership is uncomfortable with the circulation of her partially nude pictures since February.

The issue was brought up in the Bukit Gantang by-election where Malay support for PAS fell five percent although the party won with a higher majority.

“The Malays are quite conservatie especially in the rural areas. So PAS is concerned as that’s where the fight for votes is,” a party official told The Malaysian Insider.

It is understood that the Selangor Pakatan Rakyat government is likely to allow Wong to resign from her state executive councillor post but will ask her to stay on as Bukit Lanjan representative to solve the imbroglio over circulation of her private pictures.

The “Solomon-like” decision may pacify moral hardliners within the coalition while satisfying her supporters who are adamant she’s a victim who should not be penalised.

Khalid’s administration had sought the Selangor ruler’s opinion when the issue broke out in February but Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah wisely said it was a political decision.

In Penang, the choice to be Lim’s deputy and a replacement for disgraced Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin is between Batu Maung assemblyman Abdul Malil Abul Kassim and Sungai Bakap’s Maktar Shapee, the only two Malay PKR assemblymen apart from Fairus who represents Penanti.

The post is reserved for PKR in the Pakatan Rakyat government.

Lim was to have made the appointment last week after Fairus officaily resigned effective April 8 but had given Anwar a week to decide in what the chief minister called a “spirit of camaraderie and cooperation”.

The Penang executive council last week gave Lim the discretion and prerogative to name his deputy. The other deputy is Perai assemblyman Professor Dr P. Ramasamy from DAP.

The frontrunner for the DCM 1 post is Abdul Malik but he has not been named due to intense last-minute lobbying.

There was speculation that Anwar wanted to hold a by-election for the Penanti seat now held by Fairus but both DAP and PAS have cautioned against.

It is understood that Abdul Malik is not Anwar’s choice as he was not chosen last year when DAP and its allies won Penang from Barisan Nasional rule. Fairus was chosen but his various missteps finally forced him to send his resignation letter on March 21.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) picked him up for questioning on March 26 while he was trying to cross to Singapore.

The MACC took statements from Lim and Ramasamy on April 6 in connection with allegations of illegal quarrying activities linked to Fairus.

The MACC has completed its investigations and the papers are with its prosecution division.

It is not known if Fairus will be charged with any offence but several Pakatan assemblymen who are lawyers have offered to defend him.