How many more Kajang moves must the public endure?


Sheridan Mahavera, TMI

So is Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail going to be menteri besar now?

That question seems like pouring cold water on all the cheering and back-slapping that was going on last night after PKR’s Dr Wan Azizah was declared the winner in the Kajang by-election.

Yet, that was the question and it was asked repeatedly by the media because it was the reason behind the by-election in the first place.

Going by the party leaders’ replies, no concrete answer will be forthcoming any time soon. There is speculation, however, that she will not be taking over from Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim but will instead hold a senior post in his administration.

Pakatan’s critics have said the vagueness about this whole exercise and why it was done represents a bigger problem of leadership in Pakatan Selangor.

Others argue that it is valid strategy in the face of the imperfections of Malaysia’s democratic system.

Public but sensitive

“Let us concentrate on Kajang first. We want to implement what was promised in our manifesto for the Kajang folk,” Dr Wan Azizah told reporters yesterday.

“We want to improve our administrative performance. This is not a question of any individual,” said Selangor PKR chief Azmin Ali when asked the same question.

The “menteri besar issue” was a ghost that followed Dr Wan Azizah and the Pakatan machinery throughout the campaign and its sensitivity is seen in how quickly the question is deflected whenever it was brought up.

PKR leaders have admitted that the Kajang by-election was triggered so that party supremo Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim could replace Khalid.

Anwar was supposed to contest in Kajang until an Appeal Court verdict upholding his earlier conviction for sodomy disqualified him from contesting.

PKR justified the exercise, dubbed the “Kajang move”, as a way to bolster the Selangor government’s ability to deal with political crises and attacks from Umno.

It was to also solve an internal feud between Khalid and party Selangor chief Azmin Ali.

“Let us win the election first then we’ll figure those things out” was the standard answer, given by PKR leaders and Dr Wan Azizah herself when asked about it during the campaign.

But the issue was a potent weapon in the psychological war that was waged for the hearts and minds of fence-sitters up until voting day yesterday.

PKR claimed to have stopped a lorry in Sungai Kantan which carried posters that copied the iconic design of Dr Wan Azizah’s profile with the slogan “From Kajang to Putrajaya”.

Instead, the slogan had been replaced with “Vote for Wan Azizah, the Selangor menteri besar candidate”.

No one has claimed responsibility for the posters but the aim can be guessed at.

They were targeted at the sizeable number of PAS members and supporters in the Malay Muslim enclave of Sungai Kantan.

The Islamist party has gone on record as saying that the question of who is the menteri besar, or who replaces Khalid was a separate matter from the by-election.

It other words, it does not buy into PKR’s justification that Anwar needs to replace Khalid. Or that it Khalid is replaced, it should be someone from PKR and not from PAS.

The posters then, it is speculated, were designed to sow distrust among PAS supporters so that they would not come out and vote.