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Thread: Politics: PKR's Lee Chin Cheh vacates Kajang DUN seat

  1. #1
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    Oct 2008

    Politics: PKR's Lee Chin Cheh vacates Kajang DUN seat

    • Law expert: Palace can't say no to MB candidate
    • Aidila Razak | 1:48PM Jan 30, 2014
    • The Sultan of Selangor has no legal right to reject a candidate as menteri besar as long as that candidate commands the support of the majority of the state legislative assembly, constitutional law expert Abdul Aziz Bari said.

      Assessing the possible scenario raised by PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim’s bid to enter the state assembly through the Kajang by-election, Aziz said if Anwar is presented as the new MB, the sultan cannot say no.

      The law professor said the palace only has discretionary power in the appointment of the head of government when it is not clear whether the candidate presented commands the support of the House.

      The likely Selangor scenario, Aziz said, is different from the Perak constitutional crisis, where there was a dispute over whether then-menteri besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin (left) had majority backing.

      “In Perak it was 50-50. In Selangor, Selangor DAP has already voiced support for Anwar’s candidacy.

      “With the backing of DAP and PKR, this means that if Anwar is presented as the candidate to replace Khalid he will have the support of the majority of the House, whether or not PAS backs it,” he toldMalaysiakini.

      In the 13th general election, PAS won 15 seats, PKR 14 and the DAP 15 of the 44 Selangor legislative assembly seats.

      Selangor PAS Youth had earlier threatened to boycott the Kajang by-election, but this seems to have been trumped by the party’s central leadership, which said it will stand by PKR.

      According to Aziz, the Selangor constitution is identical to the federal constitution on the appointment of the head of government, except that Selangor requires the MB to be a Malay and Muslim.

      Article 53(2)(a) of the state constitution states that the sultan shall appoint as menteri besar “a member of the state legislative assembly who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the assembly”.

      ‘Only deference’

      Aziz’s reading of the constitution goes against Khalid’s statement, in which the menteri besar said the palace could ask for an alternative candidate for post if the ruler does not agree with the candidate proposed.

      Khalid, in an interview with Malaysiakini, said this was not uncommon and has taken place before in menteri besar appointments in the other states.

      “What does it mean? He (the sultan) can say, ’Can I have another person?’ We look at the history of Perlis, Terengganu, Kedah and Pahang. It is common.

      “(The sultan) may not accept the new candidate... And do you know that it may not just be one group (vying for the post)? There will be other groups lobbying for the job,” Khalid had said, referring to coalition partners PAS and DAP.

      Aziz said that in the examples cited by Khalid, the sultan in the states in question, too, had no legal right to choose but were allowed to do so out of deference.

      The constitutional expert, who was sacked from his post at Universiti Islam Antarabangsa over controversial statements made about the powers of the palace, added that the sultan also cannot dissolve the assembly on his own accord.

      “He can only dissolve the assembly upon request of the menteri besar. From recent developments, it appears that Khalid will step aside so this scenario is academic,” said the professor, who had contested in the 13th general election on a PKR ticket.

      The Kajang seat was vacated by PKR’s representative Lee Chin Cheh to trigger a by-election in what PKR argues is a tactical move to push for Putrajaya.

      Anwar’s candidacy for the by-election, which must take place within 60 days of the seat’s vacation, was announced by Khalid.

      PKR Youth said this could pave the way for Anwar to replace Khalid as the menteri besar.

      However, critics have slammed the party for triggering a by-election to sort out an internal dispute between Khalid and rival factions within Selangor PKR.

  2. #2
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    Oct 2008
    • Liow between a rock and hard place
    • Wong Teck Chi | 11:43AM Jan 30, 2014
    • ANALYSIS The upcoming by-election for the Kajang state seat has put MCA, especially its newly-minted president Liow Tiong Lai, in an uncomfortable spot.

      Liow will be spearheading MCA's first by-election in the past seven years, barely two months into his new role as president. The last by-election for MCA was for the Machap state seat in Malacca in 2007.

      Both Liow and the party are still locked in infighting, with former president Dr Chua Soi Lek (right) recently claiming that his successor had reneged on their deal.

      Furthermore, since the 2008 general election, MCA had been abandoned by the Chinese electorate and the Kajang seat comprises a large number of Chinese voters.

      It appears that whether or not MCA contests this seat, it is a Catch-22 situation for both the party and its president.

      And to make matters worse, the PKR candidate for the seat is none other than Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

      Umno Youth has already openly asked for the best candidate from BN to be fielded, with its chief Khairy Jamaluddin saying that the old formula should be discarded and therefore hinting that an Umno candidate should vie for the seat.

      If Liow bows to the pressure from Umno and surrenders the seat, the move would be in contradiction of his team's criticism against the former president.

      They had taken Chua to task for handing over the Kuantan, Gelang Patah and Wangsa Maju seats in the last general election.

      But if MCA insists on doing battle in Kajang, then the next question is who would be the best candidate to take on a heavyweight like Anwar.

      And if MCA is unable to name a credible candidate, Umno would have more reasons to ask for the seat.

      At the moment, it is speculated that the possible candidates are Lee Bang Seng, who contested the seat in the last general election, and MCA organising secretary Wyman Yoo Wei How.

      Lee had lost to PKR’s Lee Chin Cheh, who garnered a 6,824 majority. The latter had resigned this week to pave the way for a by-election and allow Anwar to contest.

      Kajang is a mixed seat with 48 percent Malay voters, Chinese 41 percent and 10 percent Indian voters.

      Although Kajang is a traditional MCA seat, the fact that Malay voters form the biggest chunk of the electorate is also another strong point for Umno to aim for the seat.

      As for Liow and MCA, this by-election could be an opportunity to return to the light after being cast into the political darkness since 2008.

      The party is hoping to capitalise on the dissatisfaction among voters with regard to PKR engineering this by-election and that the popular Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim could be ousted.

      So MCA would be hoping to slash Anwar's majority or even emerged as the victor.

      But if the party loses badly, then Liow would be in trouble. The guns in Chua’s faction would be trained on him.

  3. #3
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    Oct 2008
    • Surprise Kajang polls 'necessary'
    • Rafizi Ramli | 11:51AM Jan 29, 2014
    • COMMENT I am aware that a lot of explanation has to be made on PKR’s decision to vacate the Kajang state seat to force a by-election.

      I am also acutely aware of Ambiga Sreenevasan’s advice, communicated personally to me, that we have to be as honest as possible with the people.

      So let me begin by offering the sincerest apology to the public, especially the voters in Kajang. The by-election will certainly consume public money and public space at a time when the people have to go through economic hardship.

      There is no excuse for wasting public money except to offer my sincerest apology, and for the party to be prepared if the voters of Kajang decide to punish us.

      In all honesty, as the strongest proponent of the scheme I bear most responsibility for the decision.

      Dynamics in Umno

      Precisely because we are honest with ourselves and the people, we have to acknowledge that we are facing problems and challenges in Selangor that require intervention.

      While Abdul Khalid Ibrahim’s administration has shown a sterling performance over the last six years that has endeared him to the public, there is room for improvement in many areas, especially given the latest dynamics in Umno.

      It is an open secret that the move to remove Najib Abdul Razak (right) has begun.

      As a party strategist, I cannot rule out the possibility that, should Najib be removed, Umno would fall to the ultras led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s faction.

      The unscrupulous attacks and schemes to take Selangor by hook or by crook will begin the moment the weak Najib is removed. Even as we speak, Umno’s cards are all too obvious, as seen in the racial and religious controversies stirred up in Selangor over the last few months.

      Should Najib fall, expect a full-blown manipulation of racial and religious issues to create mistrust and frustration with the Selangor government.

      Launchpad for Putrajaya

      While Khalid’s administration has set a gold standard in integrity and prudence in managing public funds, we also have to admit there are also other areas that we can improve.

      We need a radical approach to resolving traffic woes, and the pace of affordable public housing has to pick up. There is a need for more rigorous forward planning of water resources and some hard decisions have to be made soon.

      We have to vigorously protect the rights of the minorities who are the targets of Umno’s political game.

      As a MP, I certainly believe we can do better especially with regard to cleanliness and the livelihood of the people. We have the potential to become a model state with the least number of potholes in densely-populated areas.

      In other words, Selangor has to be doubly better than what it is today if it is to become Pakatan’s showcase in its quest for Putrajaya.

      Just as Istanbul was a launchpad for Erdogan and Jakarta is a launchpad for Jokowi, Selangor can be a great launchpad for Pakatan to take over Putrajaya.

      Fortification of Pakatan

      The job is not done and we are about to face another onslaught from Umno.

      Therefore, while it is certainly inexcusable to spend public funds unnecessarily in a by-election, it would be an even bigger dereliction of public duty if we do not do anything, knowing that this round is going to be tougher.

      What PKR and Selangor Pakatan Rakyat need is fortification so that we can expedite reforms and simultaneously fend off political attacks and manouevring by Umno.

      We need as many of our top leaders around Selangor as possible to defend the state because it remains the crown jewel of any political coalition in the country.

      Hence the decision to field Anwar Ibrahim for a state seat as this provides an option that we can readily exercise, should the need arise.

      Does this mean there will be a change of stewardship of the Selangor government? Maybe yes, maybe no. But we do have the option to optimise our leadership potential if Umno stirs up more trouble.

      Option is key. Having the option means having the flexibility of manouevres that can easily frustrate Umno’s game in Selangor especially with regard to racial and religious controversies.

      Avoid the Kedah experience

      At the end of the day, I know no amount of explanation can soothe public anger. I only appeal for time to let the rationale sink in and space for us to do what is necessary.

      I also have to apologise on behalf of my party for the differences we have among ourselves that are seen as factional and often frustrate the public.

      Yet we trying our best to resolve it now for the sake of Malaysians, because not doing it now will certainly condemn us to the same experience of Pakatan in Kedah.

      We learnt the lesson bitterly that differences must be managed early because the party always has to be whole to face Umno.

      Game-changing move

      Good political leaders will never be popular.

      It pains me that we have to drag Anwar through this and subject him to public anger, yet his willingness to be a part of the bigger picture is the mark of the man.

      Throughout the last few days, I’ve reassured myself that it was Churchill who chose to be unpopular and remained a minority voice of alarm against the advancing Nazis till the end despite a public popularity to appease the Nazis. An the height of Nazi power, Churchill stood alone when every one else in Europe bowed to Hitler.

      The conviction of doing the right thing, in the face of extreme criticism and public anger, remains a yardstick of what honest leadership is.

      I thank the top leadership of Pakatan which understands the necessity of doing this. I thank my comrades in the second leadership line-up of Pakatan who have given us the moral and political support to proceed.

      I hope that one day when we are in Putrajaya, we can look back to the difficult days of what will be called the ‘Kajang Move’ as the game-changer in our quest for Putrajaya. I honestly hope that it will be a defining moment that allows us to move one step closer to Putrajaya.

      I maybe naïve and ridiculed for my naivette, but that’s as honest as I can be.

      Let’s look ahead for a stronger Pakatan in Selangor - one that is posed to take over Putrajaya in the next election and which won’t look back.

      RAFIZI RAMLI is the PKR director of strategy

  4. #4
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    Oct 2008
    PKR owes everyone an explanation, says Ambiga

    959 19

    Former Bersih 2.0 co-chairperson S Ambiga has expressed shock over the shenanigans within PKR, saying that the party owes an explanation to the public as to why the Kajang state seat was vacated to enable a by-election.

    While noting that it appeared as if PKR was trying to resolve an internal leadership crisis through this move, she said she was waiting for PKR to come up with an “overwhelming” reason.

    “I think they owe everybody an explanation,” Ambiga told the press after attending a youth dialogue session with DAP leader Lim Kit Siang (left) last night.

    She was also asked to respond to a question on whether PKR would be wasting public funds and time by creating the by-election.

    “Of course it is, isn’t it? Because barely a year after the (13th general) election, money has to be spent because of this by-election. That’s why people are not happy with it, they don’t understand it,” she added.

    PKR’s Lee Chin Cheh resigned from the Kajang state seat two days ago.

    Yesterday, Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim announced that PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim would contest the seat.

    However, Anwar denied that he will replace Khalid as the menteri besar should he win, claiming that the by-election would help the party “optimise our performance in the state”

  5. #5
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    Oct 2008
    7:43PM Jan 28, 2014 Abdul Khalid: If I leave, it will be my choice

    EXCLUSIVE As controversy rages on over what appears to be a ‘coup’ to oust him, Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim doesn’t appear to be rattled.

    Instead, Abdul Khalid said that although he would prefer to complete two terms as MB, whether or not he leaves the post before that will be up to him to decide.

    He explained that if he decides he has done enough as Selangor MB, then he will not fight any push for him to resign.

    “If I feel it is necessary (I will step aside), but (not) if I don't feel it to be necessary. If I cannot do reforms, then I will stop because it means I'm not working anymore. If I can do the reforms, I will do them,” a relaxed Khalid said in an interview with Malaysiakini today.

    “I will not fight it if I assess that I have done enough in fighting for reform.”

    For now, he said, he does not see the necessity for his resignation and that there is still much work to do.

    However, loyally toeing the party line over PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim's candidacy in the impending Kajang by-election, the MB said there will be no bad blood if Anwar eventually tells him to pack his bags.

    Asked if this would be a betrayal, he said: “No, the one who makes the decision is me.

    “Stepping aside means you (as MB) cannot do (the job). I will accept that. Unless you want it fight it, but no, you don't. You pack your bags and then ... you have a lot of books to write.”

    Having withstood pressure from within the party for five years, Abdul Khalid downplayed the latest escalation of events as “nothing abnormal”.

    Group decision

    He said that although it may appear that the whole party is against him, it is actually only “three or four” individuals who oppose him.

    This was why he chose to announce Anwar's candidacy at a press conference this morning.

    “You must show group decision. If you don't, then how will you get the confidence of the people? You must!

    “There are differences but when it comes down to it, you have to show group decision. And group decision means complying with that group decision,” he said.

    Asked if he was forced into agreeing with the decision that Anwar should stand as a candidate in Kajang, he firmly said “No.”

    “I have no power to stop (Anwar from contesting), no power to choose.
    You may want to ask this awkward question: Why don't you stop Anwar from contesting because he may take your place as MB later?

    “No. In the first place, as I see it, he can enter Kajang. Taking the MB’s post is a later question of whether it is necessary or not. At the moment, it is not necessary.”

    He also said that the Kajang by-election will be part of a “programme” to bring unity to the warring factions within the party.

    “Well, there are internal disputes but you amalgamate these things into a programme. That is the way I see they plan things,” he said.

    An MB for two terms

    Abdul Khalid said that “volatility” within politics is to be expected, much more than when he was in the corporate sector. However, having expected such uncertainty, he is able to reduce stress and focus on more important things.

    This includes succession planning as he settles into what he said was always intended to be his last term as MB.

    Subscribing to the American tradition of two-term in office, Abdul Khalid said he is now putting things in place for a “team” of successors to continue with a legacy of a clean government.

    This morning Anwar was announced as the candidate for the impending Kajang by-election, which follows the resignation of PKR's Kajang assemblyperson Lee Chin Cheh (right).

    PKR Youth has already said this will pave the path for Anwar to replace Abdul Khalid as MB.

    The official line from party leaders is that Anwar is contesting Kajang to set the momentum for Pakatan before heading to the Sarawak polls and then the 14th general election, which can be called as early as 2016.

    Lee's resignation came following widening fissures between the MB and Selangor PKR chief Azmin Ali, prompting critics to slam PKR for triggering a by-election to solve internal conflict.

  6. #6
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    Oct 2008
    3:49PM Jan 29, 2014 MB: There may be a royal twist to the Selangor saga

    Some three hours after Abdul Khalid Ibrahim announced that PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim will be contesting the Kajang state seat, observers were still scrambling to understand the ramifications of the latest development.

    The announcement had come in the wake of intense speculation that Anwar was entering the state arena to unseat Khalid and assume the post of MB.

    But as the turbulence whirled around PKR and the bombshell Khalid just dropped, the MB's office, however, was an oasis of calm.

    By the time Malaysiakini was ushered into his plush office at the Selangor State Secretariat building in Shah Alam about 2.30pm yesterday, Khalid would have been in back-to-back meetings since 8am.

    First at his home, to iron out last-minute details of the Kajang plan, then to the PKR headquarters to make the announcement, then straight to media interviews to explain the confounding turn of events.

    Skipping lunch for another media interview, Khalid, the hater of hair combs and lover of strategic management, seems to have figured it all out.

    "Today is..." he trails off as he typically does when his mouth presumably forgets to catch up with his thoughts.

    "I think I can see the difference between the corporate world and the political world. In the corporate world, I also experienced volatility.

    "But in the political world, the volatility is very much faster than in the business world," he said when asked to describe the day.

    Not a straightforward deal

    The question on everyone's minds, however, is not whether the Selangor MB has learnt the pace of politics but whether he would still be MB if Anwar wins the Kajang by-election?

    Having assessed the risk, he said the situation is "50-50".

    "He (Anwar) can say 'I need you' or 'I don't need you'."

    However, Khalid, was quick to point out that "it is not a straightforward deal, based on the history of Malaysian palace politics”.

    The menteri besar has studied the Selangor constitution and by his assessment, the sultan has the prerogative to reject a candidate for the post of menteri besar, even if the candidate has the support of the state assembly.

    "What does it mean? He (the sultan) can say, 'Can I have another person?' We look at the history of Perlis, Terengganu, Kedah and Pahang. It is common.

    "(The sultan) may not accept the new candidate... And do you know that it may not just be one group (vying for the post)? There will be three other groups lobbying for the job," he said referring to coalition partners PAS and DAP.

    "There is an element of uncertainty. It will be naïve to say that it is (a) done (deal) because palace politics has its own dynamics," he said.

    Khalid's administration was previously painted as being at odds with the palace but observers now generally agree that he actually has a good working relationship with the sultan.

    Understanding Anwar

    Having conceded that he will not cling to power if he is eventually shown the door, will Khalid use this good ties with the palace to sabotage the party's chosen man?

    "As far as that is concerned, if the party says 'Mr X'... As the delivery chap, I can deliver (the message to the palace). No issue."

    For now, the speculated person who may take over his post is Anwar. This move, analysts say, is a way to quell pressure against Khalid from a rival faction in the party.

    This is probably among the reasons the MB greatly respects the man who could take his job.

    Anwar, he said, is "the most experienced political animal" and his ability to read situations and turn "awkward situations" into opportunities is unparalleled.

    "I am trying to adapt, and I have to understand him (Anwar) or else I will not achieve my objectives. He, too, has to understand me. To bear with me. It's a mutual thing... It has its own complexities and it is not ordinary."

    Khalid also said that in their anger against Anwar, the people did not consider the risks Anwar was taking in putting himself in a position that some see as beneath him.

    "He is taking risks too because if he is not successful, this is after 20 years of hard work. Hey! It's (the risk) much more than other people!

    "He is not going there with a red carpet laid out for him. You must appreciate that. The fact that he is willing to take the risk is also important."

    Khalid said that after all the struggles, it is inconceivable that Anwar's "main aim in life at the end of the day is to end up in Selangor".

    But it is difficult for us to see the way a political animal sees things.

    "You look at Anwar in terms of his life experiences, we will not have imagined that. That is the difference... This is the reason you have to look at it from this perspective. I doubt you understand fully.

    "Just like I was trying to understand (Nelson) Mandela. If I was jailed for 25 years in that cold thing (prison), the first time I have power, I will be looking for these people to let them experience it too," he said.

    Three tigers on a mountain

    Khalid said the people may be angry that the party is using a by-election to solve internal disputes but this is all part of political "evaluation and evolution".

    "The people will have to understand that it will go back around, and they will be able to ask, 'Are you not doing what we want?' Then the (party) will have to change.

    "No political party is so stable. Even the best of communists... Even in North Korea, the uncle is now gone! (Laughs). Where is stability?" said Khalid, referring to the execution of the uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

    "If the internal issue is (handled) for the better, then it is good for the people," he said.

    Khalid said that while disputes are "not abnormal", what he hopes for is greater maturity and a "certain etiquette" in handling them.

    "Actually, a successful business is only done with a handshake. It is not the 30 or hundreds of pages of agreement. The more we do business in that manner (with handshakes), the faster we do business. The same in politics," he said.

    He admits that Anwar, himself and his rival and Selangor PKR chief Azmin Ali, have "not yet built that bond" but can "accept each others' differences".

    There is a Chinese saying that there can never be two tigers on the same mountain. With Anwar in the mix, the mountain that is Selangor will have even more than two.

    "Well, let's see. Let's see how it goes."

    Interview by Steven Gan, Fathi Aris Omar, Radzi Razak and Aidila Razak.

  7. #7
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    Oct 2008
    10:49AM Jan 30, 2014 MB to 'spend more time' pleasing the party

    When Malaysiakini walked into his office for an interview on Tuesday, Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim was munching kuih bangkit, leaving crumbs all over the front of his shirt.

    Having skipped lunch for back-to-back interviews, Khalid sat in front of media cameras, his hair uncombed, the pant on one leg awkwardly hitched too high and shirt buttons straining around the gut.

    Having made the money in his previous life as a corporate bigwig, Khalid is not short of funds to make the appropriate fashion statement.

    It is just that in fashion, as well as in state administration, the menteri besar is not one for keeping up appearances.

    “My objective for Selangor is reform. The other (part), pleasing people to gain their support, will be second priority,” Khalid said, unflinchingly.

    But this is the most common complaint against Khalid. Critics agree that he is a good administrator, but say he treats Selangor like his own company, is completely unaccountable to the party but leaves the party to deal with political fallouts.

    As a member of the political bureau, he is often absent from the meetings, leaving others to speak for him. Communication between the party and the state, critics say, should not be done through intermediaries.

    Now faced with what seems like a bid by the party to replace him, Khalid concedes that he can do better in the area of political diplomacy.

    “If you spend 80 percent of your time trying to make sure the administration is good, you spend 20 percent of your time politicking and all that, then maybe you should move from 20 percent to 40 percent, to 60 percent,” he said.

    This is how he speaks - frequently referring to himself as 'you' instead of 'I', as if he has taken a step back and is assessing the situation from the outside.

    And then, as if negotiating a business deal, he makes an offer: “Forty percent (of politicking), without compromise. In the sense that the communication is done, but not the hanky panky.”

    Eyes wide open

    Khalid does not elaborate on what he means by “hanky panky”, but he insists there is no way he will “compromise”.

    “The term is to compromise - you close your eyes and all that. I don't,” he said.

    One of the things he refuses to back down on, he said, is “jumping over files”.

    “I want to check that nobody uses delay as part of getting preference and secondly, I don't want people to become runners, because runners spoil decision-making.

    “They (assemblypersons) got very upset, because they do not have the income. So I gave more provisions for allocation to them. I increase the provision and all the programmes through Merakyatkan Ekonomi (Democratising the Economy). They have enough programmes,” he said.

    Today, he said, the annual allocation provided for each constituency, via its assemblyperson in Selangor is RM500,000 – 10 times higher than what the previous BN administration provided.

    However, those frustrated with Khalid say it is not just political gimmicks they are after. Some big decisions – such as the decision to cooperate with the federal government on the water takeover – should be done in consultation with the party. Instead, the party was left looking foolish.

    Khalid stoutly defends his tight-lipped stance on the water issue.

    “You must understand. In the corporate world, there is an element called the 'insider'. If I want to negotiate with somebody and everybody knows my negotiation strategy, I tell them, 'When I tell you this, you have seal your (lips)'...

    “In politics, there is no such thing as sealing your lips. And (when someone) uses this information and becomes an insider, how will you stop it?”

    Anwar kept in the loop

    It is not true, Khalid said, that no one in the party knew about the water issue. PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim too was in the loop and he insisted that the state should act autonomously from the party.

    “Yeah, he (Anwar) knows (about the water takeover decisions), but he wouldn't know at what price (we are making offers). (He) shouldn't.

    “You can track it. That is what transparency is about... you can audit it, but you cannot be involved in the business decision-making. You cannot and you have to learn that,” Khalid said.

    Likewise, he said, other unpopular decisions were made with the sole agenda of reforming the state and removing the rentier class.

    To do this, he said, he raised the assemblyperson's salaries – a move that caused much political backlash at a time when Malaysians are forced to tighten their belts.

    “Because the amount of income to an assemblyperson and all that doesn't even pay the cash requirement they need to service their constituency.

    “So they may have to work on other things in order to support (their constituency work), and it's a very frustrating thing.

    “The reform agenda we want is we don't want a rentier class. We agreed on that. If you have a rentier class, then the whole game is the same. We understand (the assemblypersons') frustration, but we don't want to help them,” Khalid said.

    Having predicted the growth in Pakatan's takings in Selangor in the 13th general election, Khalid stoutly believes that the people of Selangor are behind him.

    In fact, he claims the bulk of Selangor backbenchers and the party backs him – save for “three or four people” he does not care to name.

    “You do a survey,” he challenged.

    Easier to yell 'Reformasi!'

    Will he be able to convince his key detractors within the party about his methods?

    “Well, I'm convincing myself, too. This is the better way. If not, you don't talk about reform.”

    Having joined PKR at its lowest ebb in 2007, Khalid said he used to be terrified when asked to give political speeches on reform because he knew what the party was promising was not an easy task.

    Five years into the job, he still maintains that cleaning up a government is an uphill battle, and it is a battle he is still fighting, even when the daggers are already out for him.

    “Some go in front of thousands of people and say 'We reform! We reform!' but when it comes to translation (into action), well...

    “They say 'reform', but when there is opportunity to do so, they don't want to (reform). You can't do that. You can't.”

    Interview conducted by Steven Gan, Fathi Aris Omar, Radzi Razak and Aidila Razak.

  8. #8
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    Oct 2008
    1:00PM Jan 30, 2014
    The dearth of transparency and democracy in PKR

    COMMENT For years I defended Anwar Ibrahim. For years I defended PKR. I defended and I defended, until the day came where it became impossible to defend the indefensible.

    People always like to speculate whether people change their positions due to money. In all honesty, I think that’s a healthy speculation.

    After yesterday’s article, more than one person asked about the profits I made working for the Selangor government. I had a good run, and earned a similar amount as the people I went to school with, for the three years I was with Selangor.

    In the middle of last year, I was informed my services would no longer be required.

    They did not explain why at length (except perhaps to hint that I was costing too much), and I did not really ask or pursue the matter. My last day of work was around November 2013, and I have not had any professional engagement with them since.

    Given the abrupt dismissal, perhaps people would have been less surprised if I had turned on Abdul Khalid Ibrahim instead of Anwar Ibrahim.

    In any case, let’s get to it.

    Many people are throwing about words like ‘tactics’, ‘strategy’, ‘Mahathirism’, ‘racial and religious incitement’, ‘strengthening Pakatan Rakyat’, etc, etc.

    I’ll spend a few words on all those later, but for my money, they have nothing to do with the most important implication of what is going on.

    The murky game of cloaks and daggers

    To me, the real problem pivots on how Anwar and his associates are running PKR in a manner that is completely bereft of transparency, accountability and democratic principles.

    Let’s carry out a simple thought exercise: How did the decision to carry out the Kajang plan come about?

    I don’t know, do you?

    Many have speculated (myself included), many claim it happened one way or another, but the truth is: nobody outside the nebulous ‘inner circle’ has any idea.

    PKR has a large supreme council that is mostly democratically elected, and a smaller political bureau. Can we say with confidence that members of both were given an opportunity to voice their opinions, much less be made fully aware of what was going on? Are there official minutes perhaps, that we might refer to?

    Beyond PKR, there are the leaders of PAS and DAP, and there are the representatives of the Selangor State Assembly - all democratically elected as representatives by party members, and by the rakyat.

    How many of them had a say in the decision that would so heavily influence who would be the number one person in the Selangor state government? Were there broad consultations among party leaders, elected representatives, and (God forbid) the rakyat? Or was it presented to the world as a fait accompli?

    The day Lee Chin Cheh (left) resigned his seat in Kajang, someone theoretically in the top 10 ranking of PKR leaders messaged me, saying: “I guess I’m always the last to know. Sigh”

    If he/she is the last to know, what more the rest of us?

    This is the latest - and by my reckoning the last straw - in a culture of cloak and dagger politics within PKR that for too long now has circumvented transparency and democracy in favour of whispered deals made in backrooms that no one is privy to.

    I suppose it was stupid of us to expect democracy from a party whose ‘de facto leader’ has no democratic mandate whatsoever.

    These issues have not been the focus of public attention, but in my mind, the implications of this style of politics continuing to spiral out of control is the most significant factor in the entire crisis.

    ‘The bigger picture’

    All these years, I felt that despite these problems, it was important to maintain unity in order to fight the bigger enemy: Umno.

    It’s a sad day when you turn around and realise that the people you’ve been fighting for have come to live and breathe so deeply the culture you thought you were fighting against.

    Over the years, I have spent countless words trying to fight cynicism against politics, and speaking out against armchair critics who seem fuelled mostly by self-righteous anger, and who never seem to get their hands dirty.

    I did this because, like so many others, I wanted to concentrate on the big picture. I desperately wanted a Malaysia free of Umno.

    On Tuesday, I realised how far some politicians would go in abusing and manipulating this desperation.

    For too long now, I think Anwar, PKR and Pakatan have become convinced that they can get away with murder, because they believe those of us who hunger for change simply have no other options.

    They assume we truly, truly will vote for Pakatan (and Anwar) no matter what, as long as no alternative (like another party, or say, Khalid) exists.

    I had always thought there was a limit as to how far they would go. It would appear not.

    Talking cock

    Alarm bells should start ringing when politicians say things that don’t make sense, and expect you to believe it.

    At some point in ‘The Life Of Pi’, a pair of Japanese gentleman are presented with two different stories, and are asked: which story do you prefer?

    The question was not which do you think is true, the question was: which do you prefer?

    Too often we believe what we want to, not what the facts suggest. It is a struggle to be objective, but it is a struggle well worth undertaking.

    The first story

    Let me try to present, as objectively as I possibly can, two stories that might explain what is going on.

    The first has been articulated most popularly by Rafizi Ramli - a man whose sharp intelligence is reflected crystal clear in the politically savvy tone he used to make his argument.

    This story suggests that we are on the edge of a crisis; that forces linked to former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad are looking to dethrone Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, and instigate an era of unprecedented racial and religious strife.

    This story has it that in order to take Putrajaya, it is imperative that Anwar be a state assemblyman of Selangor.

    That is all that Rafizi claims at this point, but I think it is not too much of a stretch to assume that he means that Anwar must become the Selangor menteri besar in order to effectively use Selangor as a “launchpad” to take over Putrajaya.

    It is nothing short of comical to think that Anwar has some other role to play as a state assemblyman alone.

    This story also has it that “option is key” - that somehow the ability to chose between Khalid, Anwar and someone else does not represent potential instability, but is rather some kind of ace up PKR’s sleeve against the Umno leviathan.

    Given the process that needs to be carried out in order to change the menteri besar, the palace dynamics and the uncertain position that PAS will take, it seems to me that this move will actually create great instability all around, where once the only instability existed was those perpetrated incessantly by party leaders.

    There is also a warning about Selangor becoming Kedah, despite the fact that while Pakatan lost Kedah in the elections, Selangor increased its seat count by eight times more than any other state government that gained more seats in GE13.

    Other people allude to reasons that they “can’t talk about” things behind the scenes that we “wouldn’t understand”.

    If we were really privy to all the discussions and the real reasons, I personally don’t think we wouldn’t understand; it’s more like we wouldn’t approve. That’s why we haven’t been made privy to them, and are served in their place steaming piles of horse manure.

    The second story

    Now let’s try another story. In this story, Khalid runs the state in a way that makes the people happy, but makes politicians unhappy.

    The last thing I want to do is make things up out of thin air. To elaborate on the previous statistic - in GE13, Negeri Sembilan increased its state assembly seats by one; Penang did the same. Selangor increased its seats by eight.

    People love to yell until they’re blue in the face, saying that this or that is what the public really thinks, but this hard statistic is nevertheless incontrovertible. It does not prove conclusively that the public is happy with Khalid, but there are more statistics that provide statistics that suggest the opposite (which is quite remarkable, considering Khalid’s complete deprioritisation of public relations work).

    Recently, in a poll by The Star, Khalid was top choice for menteri besar, obtaining nearly the same amount of votes as the next two candidates put together (Anwar and Rafizi).

    I could be wrong, but was there a Merdeka Center poll some years back where Khalid was shown to be a more popular leader than Anwar? If so, I can’t imagine it made Anwar feel too good.

    The part where Khalid makes politicians unhappy I think goes without saying - sometimes for perfectly valid reasons, reasons I myself have experienced and been frustrated by.

    Are they reasons enough to remove him? For my money, not by a long shot.

    In any case, Khalid probably thinks it is beneath him to defend his record (can you imagine anyone else in his position maintaining the relative silence that he has?), so I won’t presume to do it for him.

    In this story, the most important thing about Khalid is that he does not easily accede to party wishes. If you ask his detractors, this applies to questions of policy (though I cannot think of many such policies). If you ask his supporters, this applies to how the party wants the state to be a bigger “resource” for party activities.

    If you ask a cynic, he or she would say, all the PKR people want is their fingers in the jar that Khalid has kept so tightly closed.

    Is it all just about the money? To say so would probably be a disservice to the varied members of the ‘Anwar for menteri besar’ team.

    Or, is it mostly about the money?

    I suppose you will have to look as objectively as you can at the things they are saying. If they make sense to you, then the answer is ‘no’. If they do not make sense to you, then the answer is ‘yes’.

    Feudal politics and Umno DNA

    People like to say that PKR is like Umno, but they seldom go into specifics. In what way does it or does it not resemble Umno?

    I think PKR is most like Umno in that it is an extremely feudal party. The most efficient and traditional feudal boss is Azmin Ali (a man who perhaps stands to gain the most from a debacle in Kajang), while Anwar’s feudal style leans more towards playing people off on one another, thus making himself as indispensable as possible.

    Feudal politics cannot exist unless there exists money, resources and power to dole out. The Selangor menteri besar can dole out a lot. Opposition Leader? Not so much.

    In the latter story, perhaps this latest ploy is also consciously or subconsciously motivated by a desire to stay relevant - to inspire followers who are losing faith, energy or both, and to do so at any cost.

    PAS and DAP

    It appears PAS is divided. Its newly-minted Youth chief has taken a hard stance, which I can appreciate, while the rest of the leaders may once again be bullied (for the “bigger picture”) to go along for the ride. Why they keep letting PKR do this to them? I do not quite understand.

    Meanwhile, motivating some quarters in DAP is the belief that someone like Anwar can relieve some of the pressure they are feeling due to the Allah issue.

    If they think Anwar has the magic bullet that will bring us closer to actual solutions on this issue, I fear they will be sorely disappointed. However, this is merely an opinion of mine, for which insufficient space for elaboration exists.

    The grass is always greener on the other side, and I think it will be too late by the time the delusions clear, and people realise exactly what they threw away when they replaced Khalid.

    Enough politics of fear

    We believe what we want to. Sometimes this leads to idolatry. Inside so many of us lives a burning yearning for change, and a pining for shining heroes to make that change real.

    These are completely understandable yearnings; but if we let them compromise our objectivity and our judgment, then we shall be forever lost.

    I was saddened to see Lim Kit Siang use May 13 as some sort of bogeyman after so many years of berating MCA for doing exactly the same thing.

    If you read Rafizi’s admittedly eloquent, beautifully crafted defence with greater care, you will see significant strains of the same politics of fear: we must do this because of the Umno threat; we must do this because without Anwar, Selangor will crumble like Kedah; we must do this because only Anwar is a light strong enough to fight the oncoming dark.

    Scary words, but the facts quite simply do not seem to bear them out.

    Every one of us will have to choose in this free marketplace of ideas which stories make the most sense, and every one of us will have to live with the consequences of our choices. At the end of the day, as always, we will get the government we deserve.

    It’s been a difficult time, but there is no point in living unless we truly believe that for every closed door, a window opens. All we have to do is to find it.

    NATHANIEL TAN tweets @NatAsasi, and wishes everyone Gong Xi Fa Cai

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    JANUARY 30, 2014

    Zaid Ibrahim

    Kajang – It’s not about Ambition

    It’s painful to hear Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim being ridiculed once again in the Barisan Nasional-controlled media for being “selfish” and “ambitious” by standing for the Kajang (N25) state legislative by-election.

    Yet again, Anwar has to endure personal attacks and humiliation, coming even from his own supporters, all because he wishes to save the directionless and malfunctioning Pakatan Rakyat from paralysis in Selangor.
    Kajang is not about Anwar’s or Azmin Ali’s ambitions. It’s about the potential failure of Pakatan Rakyat as a political alliance in the state.

    The problem started in 2008 when Anwar—jubilant that Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim the corporate millionaire had agreed to join PKR—promised that Khalid would be Menteri Besar if the Pakatan captured Selangor. Anwar had previously promised Azmin the same position and credit is due to Azmin for accepting the change gracefully.

    So, when Khalid became Menteri Besar, he did not take kindly to the decisions and directives made by Anwar or the party as a whole. In fact, he mostly ignored them. In my brief sojourn at PKR, I saw clearly that Khalid was “uncontrollable” from the political point of view.

    One of the reasons why Datuk Salehuddin Hashim (the former Secretary-General of PKR) left in a huff in 2009 was Anwar’s inability to prevail over Khalid on key issues such as how party funds should be managed and the way Selangor could help PKR politically.

    Anwar’s penchant for avoiding difficult decisions and procrastinating on important issues is the real reason for the present trouble in Selangor. Political parties that want to remain viable need adequate funds and the state must be able to provide that funding if democracy is to function.

    Selangor had to find legitimate ways to channel funding to all political parties—including the Barisan Nasional—in proportion to the votes obtained at the general election. Khalid openly rebuffed this idea and Anwar didn’t have the stomach to contradict him.

    Today, he wants to remove Khalid from the post but Khalid understands state politics quite well. After the 13th general election, PKR wanted Azmin appointed as Menteri Besar but the Pakatan could not agree to it. As such, it’s easy for the Sultan of Selangor to reject any request to remove Khalid if the request comes only from a single party (i.e. PKR).

    Had the Pakatan Rakyat acted as a single and united political entity, then the change would have been an issue worth fighting for. It would have been a matter of the people’s democratic choice of representative government and the role the constitutional monarch plays in that choice. The people usually win such contests but the opportunity was lost.

    So it is desperation with Khalid that has led Anwar to engineer the coming by-election. This move, however, will not be publicly understood unless people know about the Pakatan’s internal difficulties in Selangor.

    Meanwhile, the Barisan-controlled media will go to town with Anwar’s unusual political tactics and they will probably succeed in convincing the public that Anwar is power-crazy. And truly, the outcome is unclear: Anwar might lose in Kajang; and even if he were to win, what makes anyone think the Sultan will appoint him Menteri Besar?

    I suggest that it’s not too late for Anwar and other Pakatan leaders to wake up from their slumber and start acting as a single organised group. Top leaders must seek an audience with the Sultan, who will certainly not refuse them on such an important matter of state.

    Leaders should provide His Highness a list of prospective candidates for Menteri Besar, and the list should not be petty and detail only PKR candidates. There are other excellent Malay-Muslim candidates in the Pakatan: Anwar and Azmin are certainly suitable, but so also are Dr Abdul Aziz Bari and Khalid Abdul Samad.

    The DAP can put up Datuk Mohd Arif Sabri Abdul Aziz (better known as “Sakmongkol”). Any of these individuals will be a capable Menteri Besar. As such, leaders of the Pakatan Rakyat must start trusting one another. They must behave like an alliance in fact, not just in name. In this sense, it doesn’t really matter which party ultimately contests the Kajang by-election.

    His Highness will also be required to make a stand on the matter, and any acceptable candidate will have a good chance of winning the by-election.

    Anwar has sacrificed a great deal for the country but to be successful he must change his style of leadership. He must learn to trust his Pakatan Rakyat team and he must know that he cannot beat the Barisan Nasional by pandering to narrow party interests. He must galvanise the forces of change, for the rakyat will provide its support only if his intentions are clear.

    The Pakatan Rakyat in Selangor must speak with one voice. It should ideally propose only one candidate for Menteri Besar and not lobby for different names from PKR as is being done now.

    Unfortunately, we have come to the point where Selangor Pakatan Rakyat members must be prepared to break ranks, if necessary, in order to forge real political unity.

    Neither Anwar nor the Pakatan Rakyat can survive without that unity.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    2:12PM Jan 31, 2014
    Why shouldn’t Anwar be the MB of Selangor?

    There is a lot of talk and debate on this issue. There are many views opposing Anwar Ibrahim as the next menteri besar of Selangor. And, many are reluctant to even try and understand the reason behind such a strategy.

    One must understand that any political party is entitled to strategise. In fact, it must, for its survival and for the betterment of the party and the coalition it represents.

    What is so wrong in Anwar becoming the next menteri besar of Selangor? This must be looked into from several angles.

    Besides the fact that any party having its right to strategise, several other problems can also be resolved by Anwar (left) becoming the menteri bsear, with the immediate settlement of the Abdul Khalid Ibrahim-Azmin Ali being one.

    Selangor will also have the advantage of getting the PKR supremo as its head of government.

    Further, Anwar is already the economic adviser to Selangor. This shift in political position will only help him steer Selangor to greater heights and Selangorians will enjoy being led by the top leader of Pakatan Rakyat.

    What could be a better opportunity to showcase to the people of Malaysia how a state should be run? The people of Malaysia can look to Selangor as a way in which the country can be administered one day.

    As to the view that the Sultan of Selangor may not agree, I think this is presumptuous. His Royal Highness will surely know that ours is a constitutional monarchy, where the leader of the party that commands the majority support in the legislative assembly will have the right to lead and form his cabinet, or executive council, as the case may be.

    Anwar has much more experience

    Comparatively, Anwar comes with much more experience than Khalid. No doubt that Khalid has performed remarkably well, for Selangor has grown to be a prosperous state under his leadership.

    Good governance and integrity were instilled rightly and the overhaul in governance has resulted in doubling revenue collections. No doubt about this.

    But if the party wishes to strategise, democratically there is nothing to stop it. It does not mean a candidate vying to be the prime minister of the country cannot be the chief minister of a state as well.

    Instead of taking the narrow view, this issue should be seen from an expanded perspective. Just look at examples around the world. In India for instance, the chief minister of Gujarat state, Narendra Modi, has already been announced by his party to be the presidential candidate.

    India is the largest democracy in the world and Indians accept that the BJP party in India has got the right to nominate a state chief minister to be their presidential candidate.

    Drawing an analogy, the effective leader of DAP, Lim Guan Eng, is the Chief Minister of Penang. So what's wrong with Anwar, the de facto leader of PKR, being the menteri besar of Selangor?

    On the political point of view, and this is I think is the most important, Anwar becoming the menteri besar of Selangor will have serious implications on the BN.

    Rest assured that Selangor will be under Pakatan for a long, long time to come if Anwar becomes the next menteri besar. Selangor will be forever lost to BN and this is what BN is afraid of. Isn’t that wonderful?

    We must not forget the bigger picture. Do not zoom in on the trivial issues like how it is being done but rather why and how are we going to benefit from it. Let us not lose sight of our common enemy. Let us educate ourselves to be a little more visionary.

    M MANOGARAN is the former Member of Parliament for Teluk Intan.

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