Two Selangor officials quizzed by the MACC over Rafizi’s report


The Third Force

Call them wishful thinkers, call them what you may – there are people rooting for Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim (TSKI) to be returned as Selangor Menteri Besar (MB). Every time the topic is floated, those who know him have this to say – he is prudent, trustworthy, and guides his affairs with sheer discretion.

“If (TSKI) is the North Pole, Azmin would be the South,” says one of the former MB’s ardent supporters. Talking to them, I get the impression that Azmin is to Khalid what the anti-Christ is to Christianity. Those in the know seem to think that Azmin is as corrupt as corrupt gets, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But mind you, that’s going by TSKI’s die-hard supporters – they could be wrong.

But recent turn of events seem to suggest otherwise. Mid last month, Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, a onetime Azmin accomplice, channelled through his wife a clear set of instructions that were meant strictly for Rafizi Ramli. What he told the PKR secretary general boiled down to this – Azmin Ali must be brought down at all cost, even if it means going to the moon and coming back.

As a matter of fact, the jailed PKR de facto chief opined that sacking Azmin from the party would be one way of getting the Selangor Palace to agree on a replacement MB. But there is a teething problem – neither Rafizi nor Wan Azizah has in mind a clear endgame to the coup plot they are now working out against the Selangor MB.

Put differently, they have yet to figure out whom to replace Azmin with for the top job. However, the duo is dead serious about having Azmin ousted before September this year, which is the month Tun Dr. Mahathir Muhammad is expected to announce the surprise formation of a so called ‘Third Force’.

The whole idea of not wanting Azmin to remain as Selangor MB is tied to news of his complicity with Mahathir. According to a Kuala Lumpur based source with tentacles lodged firmly in Azmin’s innermost circle, the current Selangor MB is likely to spring an attack on Wan Azizah by year end. It rhymes to reason that the chilling state of political hostility between Azmin and team Azizah is likely to erupt into a full blown battle of political will and survival.

And there is a reason for it.

Azmin is said to be canvassing for support from within Selangor PKR to force Wan Azizah out of her role as party president by September. Once accomplished, the Selangor MB plans to restructure the party, and at Mahathir’s behest, kick both Nurul Izzah Anwar and Rafizi out from their respective posts.

In the interim, both Mahathir and Dato’ Seri Mukhriz Mahathir have committed to the establishment of a new political outfit based on a blueprint they had drawn up together with Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin late last year. Back then, several corporate capitalists closely aligned to the ex-premier pledged funds worth three million ringgit to bankroll the setting up of the new political party that involved an MCA life-member and a former MIC president.

All said, anti-Azmin proponents agree on one thing – both Rafizi and Wan Azizah have marked on the calendar the end of August as deadline to turn the Palace against Azmin. Just for that, they launched a war of perception against the MB on grounds that there existed elements of logrolling and graft in the state’s administration.

Last Monday, Rafizi filed a report with the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) over allegations that money and women were sought in negotiations involving the Selangor state government. However, there may have been more to the allegation than what was splashed in the mainstream.

It seems that the Selangor MB was tangled in shady dealings involving Lee Chin Cheh, a former state assemblyman, who was instrumental in helping mediate the procurement of business proposals from some big wheels in the business sector. As a point of interest, Chin Cheh had once vacated his seat in Kajang to pave the way for a by-election that was later dubbed Langkah Kajang.

As the story goes, Chin Cheh was complicit with an unspecified number of state assemblymen and their runners in bringing these proposals forward to the Darul Ehsan Investment Group (DEIG), of which Azmin is a member by virtue of his role in the state government.

Just to be clear, DEIG was established under the Companies Act 1965 and is 100 percent owned by Menteri Besar Incorporated (MBI). A state statutory body, MBI was tasked with managing and enhancing Selangor’s assets, but failed in its core objectives owing to there being traces of misdirection ever since Azmin supplanted TSKI as MB.

Several quarters believe that this misdirection was a deliberate manoeuvre to justify the rationalisation and consolidation of 74 companies both subsidiary and attendant to MBI under DEIG. The excuse given was that the corporate entity would help optimise contributions to the state through the implementation of a sustainable and professional management framework.

A source revealed that a DEIG insider going by the name of Chong was in touch with Rafizi and brought to light instances of corruption in the company’s dealings with businessmen seeking to put their proposals on the desks of the corporate entity’s board members.

That led Rafizi to the doors of the anti-graft agency with documents said to bear a list of complaints that were assembled from unknown sources. It is said that the complaints pertained to a ‘certain individual’ who was implied in allegations of graft and solicitation of favours that were hurled against the state government.

“This is one of those rare cases where a secretary general of a party is lodging a report against its own party, but this should be the way,” the PKR secretary general told reporters after submitting the documents.

A well placed source revealed that the MACC didn’t waste much time and interviewed two officers closely linked to Azmin last Wednesday. They are:

1. Soffan Affendi Aminuddin, 36, COO at DEIG, and

2. Hilman Idham, 27, Special Officer to the Selangor MB

The duo is said to have been on leave ever since, though the details of the interview is yet unknown. Speculation is rife that Soffan had accumulated wealth beyond the bounds of tenability throughout his tenure as DEIG COO and is a prime suspect in the MACC’s discovery exercise.

Come what may, both Rafizi and Wan Azizah are dead serious about wanting to dislodge Azmin from power, and the MACC report filed may just be the beginning. A second Langkah Kajang is said to be in the works and it is just a matter of time before a full blown leadership tussle in PKR and the Selangor state government explodes on our faces.