As Anwar moves for MB post, PKR scrambles to contain fallout

anwar ibrahi

(MM) – The clock is now ticking for PKR to try and convince its coalition partners to accept Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as the new Selangor mentri besar should he win the Kajang by-election.

It is understood that Anwar has “more or less” made up his mind to replace current mentri besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim in an effort to ensure that Selangor’s policies and governance are in accordance with Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) manifesto, apart from putting an end to PKR’s infighting within the state.

An influential PKR leader told The Malay Mail Online that that the reason Anwar was chosen to replace Khalid was to help “balance” out the bitter rivalry between the latter and PKR deputy president Azmin Ali.

“Its a nice compromise,” the leader said, adding that both Azmin and Khalid had agreed to the deal.

Azmin has been at loggerheads with Khalid over his recent removal from the board of the Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS), which the second-term mentri besar has insisted had not been his doing.

But even as Anwar prepares himself to make a public announcement on the matter soon, his party is finding it tough to convince component party leaders, especially those in PAS, of Anwar’s plan to replace Khalid.

“Talks so far have not been as encouraging as we would have hoped. Selangor PAS’ response has not been overwhelming,” a PKR source told The Malay Mail Online.

“The clock is ticking for us. If we don’t settle it soon, it will be harder to contain the fallout,” he added, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The source said that “senior PKR leaders” have been tasked to meet Selangor PAS commissioner Iskandar Abdul Samad and state PAS secretary Mohd Khairuddin Othman to try and obtain a “consensus” to allow Anwar’s run for the coveted MB post..

While the DAP has publicly stated their support for the Opposition leader, PAS has been extra cautious in showing that same show of strength.

The Malay Mail Online understands that both Iskandar and Mohd Khairuddin are expected to meet PKR deputy president Azmin Ali later today.

“It’s either today or tomorrow, the meeting. But as far as I understand, we are meeting to coordinate our strategies for the Kajang by-election.

“There is no agreement or consensus for after the by-election. We are waiting for word from the PAS national leadership, but PAS has not agreed to who will be the next mentri besar yet,” Mohd Khairuddin told The Malay Mail Online.

The PAS national leadership has indicated that it may not necessarily support Anwar should he make a move for the MB’s post, and that the only agreement reached between the three parties do far is on his candidacy for the upcoming Kajang by-election.

Selangor PAS has also openly expressed unhappiness over Anwar’s rumoured plan to take over the Selangor mentri besar’s post.

Mohd Khairuddin has said that the party will nominate state party commissioner Iskandar should the MB post be vacated by Khalid since the Islamist party holds more seats in the state assembly than PKR.

“I still stand by what I said earlier this week. Selangor PAS has not changed their mind on that yet. Our position on the matter still stands,” the state PAS leader said.

When contacted, Azmin reiterated that there has been no discussion yet on whether Anwar would become the next mentri besar if he wins the Kajang by-election.

“Right now, Pakatan is coordinating efforts on strengthening its campaign for the by-election. That is all so far,” he told The Malay Mail Online.

PR currently coalition holds 44 of the 56 seats in the Selangor state assembly. PAS and DAP both have 15 seats each, while PKR has 13 after Kajang assemblyman Lee Chin Cheh’s sudden resignation earlier this week.

Anwar had announced on Tuesday that he will contest the coming Kajang by-election, confirming previous speculation.

He did not say, however, if he planned to replace Khalid as Selangor Mentri Besar, insisting that this was merely speculation for now.

The opposition leader has also said he would explain the circumstances that led to his decision to contest in the by-election for the Kajang state assembly seat.