Khalid has immunity in PKNS fiasco, claims Utusan columnist


(MM) – Despite growing unhappiness at his leadership, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim is unlikely to be axed as Selangor mentri besar as he continues to enjoy the full support of PKR de facto chief Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Mingguan Malaysia said in an opinion piece today.

Writing under the Awang Selamat pseudonym that represents its collective editorial voice, the weekend edition of Malay broadsheet Utusan Malaysia added that the second-term mentri besar will survive the current Selangor Development Corporation (PKNS) fiasco, as he is privy to much information about the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) pact’s lynchpin chief, Anwar.

“In Awang’s opinion, Khalid still has immunity and will remain as Mentri Besar. PKR is under the influence of its main leader, Anwar Ibrahim who does not dare fire Khalid,” it said.

“The issue is, Anwar is in a much weaker position than Khalid. He keeps a lot of Anwar’s secrets. That is the beauty of having a boss who has issues of morality and integrity.

“Khalid can react, and Anwar would not be able to deal with the consequences,” Utusan said, adding that the Mentri Besar also has the full support of PKR president Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Pakatan Rakyat allies DAP.

Speculation of a worsening rift between Khalid and PKR deputy president Azmin Ali have been rife after the latter’s controversial removal from the PKNS board earlier this month.

Khalid denied that his administration had ordered for Azmin’s removal despite claims by PKNS itself that they received instructions from the state executive council.

The mentri besar later released minutes of the state executive council meeting that discussed the appointment of several PR leaders to the company’s board, revealing that the state had not decided on Azmin’s removal.

The issue lead to the immediate transfer of PKNS general manager Datuk Othman Omar and executive secretary Norita Mohd Sidek to the state secretary’s office on January 20.

Utusan today claimed that the removal of the two senior PKNS officers only fuelled growing anger among Selangor PKR members, who the daily alleged to have unanimously agreed to have Khalid replaced with another leader from the state.

“Many Selangor PKR leaders especially Abdullah Sani and Amirudin Shari who support Azmin, are vocally rejecting Khalid,” the daily said, referring to Kuala Langat MP Abdullah Sani Abdul Hamid and Batu Caves state asseblyman Amirudin Shari.

“Khalid’s image is waning. He received a lot of criticism especially in the issue of kalimah Allah, the salary increase for the Mentri Besar and state administrators, the closure of the GiatMara centre and problems in the water industry,” Utusan said.

Earlier this week, Chinese language newspaper Sin Chew Daily claimed that PKR had decided to replace Khalid with Azmin as the new mentri besar, in response to the PKNS debacle.

Party secretary-general Datuk Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, however, denied the report, explaining that the party’s central leadership only “discussed” the issue at a January 15 meeting.

“The matter was discussed, opinions were made, but this was just the extreme views of three or four members….there are 55 MPP members, so a decision cannot have been made,” he said at a recent press conference.