Unclear if Anwar can become MB


Selangor Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim’s supporters claim he has the numbers to hold on to his job.

Joceline Tan, The Star

DATUK Seri Anwar Ibrahim is regarded as unbeatable in the Kajang by-election on March 23.

But it is increasingly unclear whether the ambitious PKR leader can make it as the next Mentri Besar of Selangor now that Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim is digging in his heels and refusing to go.

The Kajang Move, as the scheme to force a by-election for Anwar to contest and move up in Selangor, has been much more complicated than anticipated.

Khalid who had earlier agreed to make way for Anwar has changed his mind and is staying put. His closest supporters claimed he has done his homework and that he has the numbers.

They said that their man has done his calculation and is ready to play the numbers game.

They did not provide the numbers but they claimed that if the question of who should be Mentri Besar is put to a vote in the State Legislative Assembly, Khalid can survive by a simple majority although that would mean he has to also rely on support from the opposition bench.

Khalid’s change of heart and renewed confidence stemmed from the deluge of appeals and goodwill messages from well-wishers urging that he should stay on.

He has also been monitoring the reaction of netizens and the opinion out there and he can see that he still holds the moral high ground.

But going to the State Legislative Assembly to force Khalid out is the last thing on Anwar’s mind – for now, at least. It would be terribly embarrassing, almost equivalent to airing their dirty laundry in public and both the DAP and PAS are not keen on that at all.

Moreover, Selangor PAS may not go along with it. The PAS leaders in Selangor have held several meetings on the Kajang by-election and their conclusion is that they prefer Khalid as the Mentri Besar and have no problems with him.

But if Pakatan Rakyat insists on removing Khalid, then PAS will be compelled to nominate its own candidate for the top post and they already have in mind their state executive council member Iskandar Samad.

“That is the stand by our party in Selangor and we have to respect it,” said a top PAS leader.

But officially, the PAS’ stand is that it will go along with the by-election. The discussion about who will be the Mentri Besar will take place after the polls.

Khalid’s newfound confidence is premised on the knowledge that PAS is basically not in favour of Anwar for the top job.

Temerloh MP Nasruddin Hassan Tantawi has even criticised PKR’s unilateral decision on Kajang as disrespectful and for treating PAS like a “Tupperware party”.

The most vocal PAS critic has been PAS Dewan Ulama information chief Datuk Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali who has been unrelenting in his moral arguments against the by-election.

It is unclear how Pakatan intends to continue to apply the pressure on Khalid to resign.

What happens if Khalid refuses to resign should Anwar win in Kajang? Can they go ahead and nominate new names for the post while there is still a sitting Mentri Besar?

The situation now is unlike that after a general election where there is vacuum to be filled. Does the Sultan have the right to consider Khalid’s name alongside the other nominees?

Ethically speaking, the Mentri Besar ought to go if he has lost the majority support of the parties in power. But Khalid can be rather obstinate and cannot be pushed to do something he disagrees with. His style when criticised is to listen without arguing, nodding his head while looking apologetic and contrite.

He may even thank his critics for their suggestions and promise to carry out their proposals. But as many in his party have learnt, he would carry on as before, doing things in his Lone Ranger style.

Like many successful men, Khalid has an ego and an inflated sense of himself. He feels deeply betrayed by Anwar and has told people that he feels played out by Anwar.

PKR’s mistake was to assume that Khalid would be a pushover. They did not expect him to put up a fight and take them on.

Khalid also felt humiliated by the way the party ran him down in their clumsy rush to justify the Kajang Move, implying that he had mismanaged issues in Selangor and saying that he was not suitable for the job because he is a not a good politician.

But the fact that he is not a typical politician is what wins him brownie points with the ordinary people.

It was not the way to treat a man who is vacating a coveted job for you. Not only were they showing him the door, they were throwing stones at his track record. They could have given him a more dignified exit.

The Kajang Move must have looked wonderful and clever on paper. It has not exactly backfired but it is hitting road bumps at every step of the way.