The earth has been rumbling under the feet of Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim as speculation grows that Selangor may soon be getting a woman Mentri Besar.
THE advent of the Muslim holy month has not stopped PKR leaders from pressing Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim to resign as Mentri Besar.
The political attacks against Khalid have been relentless and ruthless. DAP politicians in Selangor have also been attacking him almost daily in the Chinese vernacular papers. They cannot forgive him over the Bible issue and they have been picking apart his policies from the water deal to the Kidex highway.
But it was Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi who opened the floodgates with his Facebook posting: “Sack that bugger.”
Khalid is in a vulnerable spot. DAP has gone from being his biggest ally to being his most lethal opponent.
Crowded scene: There is no shortage of candidates lined up to take over from Khalid (right)
and among them are (from left to right) Dr Wan Azizah, Iskandar and Azmin.
Only PAS has held back from criticising him, not because they want him to stay on but because PAS is eyeing the post for one of their own, namely, architect and Chempaka assemblyman Iskandar Samad.
All pretences have been dropped and everything is on the table. Or as one journalist put it, it is “all-out war”.
Politics is a cruel and ruthless game and poor Khalid is on an island surrounded by hungry sharks.
It is hard to see him surviving as Mentri Besar especially after he lost his Kuala Selangor chairman post. It is also unlikely that he can overtake incumbent powerhouse Azmin Ali in the race for the deputy presidency.
Several party figures have been hauled up in connection to the attacks against the Mentri Besar.
Outgoing AMK or Youth chief Shamsul Iskandar and his likely successor Amiruddin Shari have been slapped with show-cause letters for publicly asking Khalid to step down. Both Shamsul and Amiruddin are regarded as “Azmin’s boys” so it was evident where they were coming from.
Khalid’s former political secretary Faekah Husin, known for her “machine-gun mouth”, also got a show-cause letter for lashing out at Khalid’s critics. Faekah, who is now CEO of Mentri Besar Inc, called them “idiotic” for asking Khalid to quit as Mentri Besar just because he lost in the division election.
Azmizam: 'They've tried everything to sabotage
'She said that if a government post is to be equated to a division post, state executive councillor Dr Daroyah Alwi, who is aligned to Azmin, should also quit after failing in her bid for the Kapar chairmanship. Then Faekah twisted the knife by pointing out that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was the all-powerful Ketua Umum even without a divisional post.
The attacks from Khalid’s own party people started in earnest after news broke last week that he had been defeated as Kuala Selangor chairman. The election in Kuala Selangor has been plagued by mishaps and disputes but a power blackout during the counting of votes took the cake.
PKR has this highly questionable practice where the ballot boxes are brought from where the voting took place to be stored at the party headquarters for several days before the ballots are counted.
The counting of ballots for the MPP or central committee was done by about midnight with Khalid getting the majority of the votes over Azmin Ali and Datuk Saifuddin Nasution for the deputy president post.
As counting for the division posts were about to start at about 12.30am, the power went off and those present left the building for some fresh air.
Faekah: Lashed out at
those who attacked the
This was a real blackout unlike the fake blackout claims that DAP made during the general election. Power was restored only after an hour or so and when counting ended at about 4am, Khalid’s men were shocked to learn that he had lost the division leadership by 186 votes.
Khalid’s political secretary Azman Abidin said it did not make sense that Kuala Selangor would give the deputy president votes to Khalid but reject him as the division chairman.
The blackout affected the entire Tropicana area where the PKR headquarters is located but Khalid’s supporters found the whole thing too fishy to accept and his team has appealed for fresh elections in Kuala Selangor.
Khalid is not the only one affected by such suspicious twists and turns.
Azmin’s supporters had complained that the numerous polls cancellations as well as the “organised chaos” in some divisions were aimed at sabotaging Azmin.
For instance, the election in Kota Raja in Selangor was cancelled after being disrupted by a violent group.
Then it was postponed again at short notice. Members have complained about the confusion and scolded party leaders for wasting their time, telling them “jangan main-main” or not to play the fool with them.
When the election was finally convened, some men had tried to grab the ballot boxes just as polling was about to close.
“Fortunately, we managed to stop them. We don’t know who they are but they have tried everything to sabotage our division,” said newly-elected Kota Raja vice-chief Azmizam Zaman Huri.
Azmin’s boys have also questioned the polls outcome in Pensiangan in the remote interior of Sabah.
Azmin had won the No. 2 post in Pensiangan with 503 votes against 127 for Khalid and 22 for Datuk Saifuddin Nasution. But the polls were declared null and void by the election body.
When the division voted again recently, Khalid won with more than 900 votes, Azmin got only eight votes and Saifuddin zero votes.
“It was so obvious that something funny happened there,” said a former PKR assemblyman.
The PKR polls have been the mother of all ironies. All the hanky-panky they had accused other parties of were rolled out in their own party – from electrical blackouts to gangsterism and money politics.
At the Sabak Bernam polls two weekends ago, a student who was helping out with the election recognised four of his classmates going in to vote. Three of them voted using the IDs of real members but one was stopped and he told party officials that he was paid RM100 to turn up.
Law lecturer Dr Aziz Bari who is contesting for the Sabak Bernam chairman post has asked for a re-election.
“We used our handphones to take picture of the schoolboys and we have submitted our case to the election committee,” said Andy Lim, the special officer to Dr Aziz Bari.
The fights and chaos at some divisions have resembled scenes from action movies. The most gory incident occurred at the Kuala Langat election where a gang of young men attacked a middle-aged man with chairs.
Blood gushed out from his head as he fell to his knees with a broken plastic chair still looped around his neck while another chair came flying at him.
As one PKR assemblyman put it: “Sometimes, too much democracy is not good for the party.”
The election has gone on longer than the World Cup and the reputation of the PKR election body is in shreds. PKR simply does not have the resources or expertise to cope with the one-man-one vote system and there will be changes after this.
There are allegations that the chaos at the Selangor polls were aimed at forcing Khalid out and also to put the brakes on Azmin so that he does not become too powerful.
A big part of the problem is that there is no clear line of command in the PKR. Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah is not the typical party president who takes charge and issues instructions. No one is quite sure where she stands on the party election or on the question of the Mentri Besar post.
Anyway, who can blame her for keeping to the shadows? Her name tops the list of candidates for the Mentri Besar post.
The prevailing notion is that Anwar wants his wife as the next Mentri Besar and that he has secured the consensus of DAP leaders.
Azmin is seen as the second choice and DAP sources claimed the party has warmed up to Azmin over the last one year. It is also no secret that Palace officials have been watching him and they are impressed with how he conducts himself in the State Legislative Assembly.
There are two things standing in the way of Anwar’s plans. One is PAS which wants a go at the top post although it is understood that PAS will be offered an additional state executive councillor post as a compromise.
There have also been reports that PAS president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang is blocking the change but those familiar with PAS politics would know that Hadi sways with the wind and at the moment, he is under the influence of the young Turks in the ulama group who want their man up there.
The other hurdle is the Palace. The Selangor Constitution only specifies that the candidate must be Malay and Muslim but the Palace is concerned about social conventions. Religious events are a big part of the duties of a Mentri Besar and it is still very much a man’s world when it comes to Islam.
For instance, some of the more recent duties of Khalid was praying alongside the who’s who of Selangor (all men, of course) at the funeral of the state Chief Imam Ustaz Ahmad Mustafa. A few days earlier, he joined the Sultan of Selangor for prayers at the Royal Mausoleum.
But it is understood that the Palace is not adverse to a change as long as everything is done in a constitutional manner.
The big question is whether the Palace is ready for a woman Mentri Besar. No one can quite second guess the Sultan on that but Tuanku is likely to ask for more than one name to consider for the top job. That will probably be the moment for PAS to step up to the plate.
The Selangor political crisis is about to get more interesting.
The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own. Jocelin Tan The STAR Home > Opinion > Columnists Analysis Sunday July 6, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM