‘Pas can’t save Khalid’s job’


Siti Norain Usop, NST

Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim’s position as Selangor menteri besar is safe for now, but it remains uncertain how long it will last.

The support he received from Pas was not enough to neutralise efforts and overtures by several PKR members to oust him from office, said political analysts.

“First, they tried with the Kajang by-election, but that strategy failed. Now, they are trying to kick him out through a drawn-out party election.

“I am not surprised if they hold another by-election just to end Khalid’s tenure as menteri besar,” said National Professors’ Council political cluster secretary Prof Datuk Abdul Halim Sidek.

The Kajang by-election held in March was engineered by PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli, allegedly to better the state’s political standing, with PKR leaders speaking about the possibility of Khalid being replaced as menteri besar after the by-election.

Khalid’s decision to remain as menteri besar, despite losing the Kuala Selangor PKR branch chief post, has received criticism from those aligned with his rival, party deputy president Azmin Ali.

Khalid’s willingness to work with other parties, regardless of their political leanings, has also drawn his colleagues’ ire.

Pas, meanwhile, believes that it can influence the appointment of the menteri besar, with party ulama information chief Datuk Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali saying that Khalid was Pas president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s choice for the post.

In the 13th General Election, Pas and DAP each won 15 state seats, while PKR won 14 seats.

“Khalid has done well as menteri besar because of his frugality and he is strict in managing finances.

“There is no reason for him to be replaced,” Khairuddin was quoted as saying in January.

Universiti Utara Malaysia political scientist Dr Muhammad Fuad Othman said PKR leaders did not like the idea of Khalid working with Barisan Nasional or other parties.

“They do not like him doing that, even if it is only to get the job done.”

Yesterday, top Pas leaders, including party secretary-general Datuk Mustafa Ali and Youth chief Suhaizan Kaiat, met here to listen to Selangor Pas leaders’ opinions on the controversy.

“We will hold a meeting with the opposition coalition (presidential council) soon to further discuss the issue,” said Suhaizan.

However, analysts are adamant that the absolute “power” in determining Khalid’s future as menteri besar of the country’s richest state lies with opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

They opine that Pas will not be able to assert its influence in the matter, even though it is popularly claimed that Khalid’s appointment as menteri besar since 2008 was mooted and endorsed by the party.

“It is an open secret that Anwar and Hadi had mutually agreed that the appointment of Khalid could pacify the warring tendencies of Pas and DAP,” said Fuad.

He said Hadi and Anwar might sometimes not see things eye to eye in public, but they had a solid relationship behind closed doors, which was unknown to many.

“Pas members may think they have a say in the matter due to Khalid being their president’s choice.

“But, little do they know that it was Anwar who had influenced Hadi to choose Khalid as well.”

Halim said Khalid might not find Anwar pulling him out from the quicksand as the PKR de facto leader was allegedly gunning for the menteri besar’s post, judging from his candidacy in the Kajang by-election.

Anwar, however, was not able to contest after the Court of Appeal had, on March 7, sentenced him to five years’ jail after allowing the Attorney-General’s Chambers’ appeal to set aside the High Court’s acquittal of him sodomising his former aide.

However, the Federal Court allowed a stay of execution, pending an appeal hearing filed by Anwar.

“Anwar is the real puppeteer behind the mess that is taking place. He wants Khalid removed,” said Halim.

Fuad described the Pas meeting yesterday as a charade to ensure continuous support from the party’s grassroots in the state.

“Pas is seen as the party that succeeded in scoring Malay votes in the state.

“This leads the perception that it can determine who will become the menteri besar.

“As of now, unless it can put forward a business technocrat from among its ranks as a replacement for Khalid, Pas’ powers in the matter remain illusory.”

Halim, in sharing Fuad’s sentiment, said it was risky for Anwar to have Pas leading the state government, given its adversarial relationship with DAP.

He said Khalid had been appointed as menteri besar instead to manage the state’s finances before the baton was passed to a more politically adept leader.

“Khalid was supposed to step down. However, he managed to stay on after developing his own political base.

“So, something did not go according to Anwar’s plan.

“That is why the Kajang by-election was allegedly engineered.”

Halim said apart from Anwar, Pas should realise that DAP wielded greater influence in the state assembly.

He said although the opposition alliance in the state claimed that its political cooperation was not affected by racial and religious issues, the reality was otherwise.