In Selangor, knives being sharpened for MB Khalid


“DAP has expressly said they do not want Azmin as MB. So even though there is a lot of support for him, Azmin does not enjoy the full support of Pakatan as of right now,” another PKR source told The Malay Mail Online.

Shazwan Mustafa Kamal, MM

The sign on the door to the Selangor mentri besar’s office still reads “Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim”, but the surprise resignation of a state assemblyman yesterday has set in motion events that may soon bring a change.

The Malay Mail Online understands that high-level discussions are well under way among top Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders to replace Khalid, although no decision has been made as the three parties within the ruling coalition do not agree on his successor.

“We have approached two senior leaders in DAP and two in PAS and brought up the matter… there is a general feeling that Khalid should no longer remain as MB; too many thing have led to this,” a PKR leader told The Malay Mail Online on condition of anonymity.

While popular with the general public, Khalid’s penchant for unilateral decision-making in administrating the country’s wealthiest state is understood to be a source of dissatisfaction among PR leaders in the state.

Among his decisions that have ruffled feathers in the pact are the controversial pay hikes for Selangor state assemblymen and administrators, an unexpected decision to go with Putrajaya’s recommendations in the state’s water restructuring plans, and the convoluted removal of PKR deputy president and known rival Azmin Ali from the board of the Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS).

This is believed to be the first time all three federal opposition parties are contemplating the removal of the two-term mentri besar who first assumed the post after the 2008 general election, despite the fallout it is expected to cause.

“Politics aside, the problem many leaders have with Khalid is how he makes decisions in the state without informing or allowing participation from Pakatan.

“I mean I get it, you are the mentri besar but you are also part of Pakatan, we are a team,” said the source.

With a seeming accord in place to replace him, the one thing still keeping Khalid in his job is the sticky question of who would be best to take his place.

Speculation is rife that either Azmin or PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim may take over, although the latter choice is more involved as it also requires a state seat to be vacated by a PR representative and subsequently won by Anwar.

“(That) option is open for discussion. But many believe this option is very bumpy,” another source said when asked about notion of fielding Anwar as MB.

But it now appears that PR — or PKR, at least — has opted for the “bumpy” road.

Yesterday, the party’s Kajang state representative, Lee Chin Cheh, resigned without reason to pave way for a by-election in which Anwar is expected to contest.

Selangor Speaker Hannah Yeoh announced Lee’s resignation yesterday evening but remained tight-lipped over the move other than to say she will inform the Election Commission (EC) today of the vacancy.

The convoluted arrangement is believed to have been necessitated by some PR leaders’ resistance towards Azmin taking over as MB, even if they are prepared to show Khalid the door.

“DAP has expressly said they do not want Azmin as MB. So even though there is a lot of support for him, Azmin does not enjoy the full support of Pakatan as of right now,” another PKR source told The Malay Mail Online.

DAP and PAS leaders identified as party to the negotiations have declined comment, telling The Malay Mail Online only that they refuse to “confirm or deny anything.”

It is understood that Anwar met with Khalid recently to discuss the “views and opinions” of many PR leaders, but it is unclear whether Khalid has agreed to willingly make way.

Despite the latest developments, the Selangor government and Anwar continue to deny that Khalid will be removed as MB.

But Khalid appeared to acknowledge his possible removal yesterday when asked about Lee’s resignation purportedly to allow for Anwar to take over as MB.

“Any decision on the mentri besar post will need consensus from all three (PR) parties and also consent from the Sultan,” Khalid told reporters here yesterday.

Rumours about Khalid’s position began brewing after January 8 when Azmin received a letter informing him of his removal from the board of the PKNS, which officials allege was done on orders from the state government.

Khalid later insisted that the Selangor executive council did not decide on Azmin’s removal, and declassified official state documents to confirm the matter last week.

Azmin told The Malay Mail Online in a recent interview that he was more concerned about improving PR’s performance in its second term in the Selangor government, and not “personal rivalries”.

He stressed the importance of teamwork in the administration of a state and said no leader should make unilateral decisions.

PR currently holds 44 seats in the 56-seat Selangor state assembly, after it won another 10 seats over its haul from Election 2008.