Sunday, August 17, 2014

Eyeing: Selangor feud a make or break for PR?

BY A. JALIL HAMID - 17 AUGUST 2014 @ 8:07 AMONE voter in Selangor joked that he does not mind going back to the ballot box.
But with the intriguing political drama unfolding in Selangor showing no signs of an early respite, a fresh state election in Selangor could be the only option now to break the protracted impasse in the Pakatan-induced tussle for the No. 1 seat in the state.
What is clear so far is that Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim is no political pushover when his job is on the line.
Seasoned politicians like Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the PKR’s Ketua Umum (Ketum for short), and DAP strongman Lim Kit Siang have been reduced to being mere “political amateurs” by Khalid, as this current episode revealed.
Those who think they can bully Khalid and immediately drive him out of his office might have underestimated the former Kumpulan Guthrie CEO’s political mettle.
He has been able to maintain his cool and calm despite the intense pressures brought to bear on him by Anwar and company. He even managed to take his wife for a Japanese dinner at a posh golf club at the height of the crisis.
The “Kajang Move”, designed by PKR to oust Khalid and throw a political lifeline to Anwar but which has been checkmated at every step, has been aptly renamed “Kajang Folly” by PKR detractors.
The Selangor political crisis, if prolonged, has deeper repercussions beyond just the survival of Anwar and Khalid.
For one, it could make or break Pakatan, casting doubt about its survival in the next general election.
The crisis has brought out the simmering fundamental and deep differences between PKR, Pas and DAP.
“Even if they pull through in Selangor, the partnership or alliance at the national level has been dented,” said Chow Kum Hor, executive director of Centre for a Better Tomorrow, a civil society group that says it promotes moderation and good governance.
Unprecedented harsh words had been exchanged between, for example, DAP’s Lim Guan Eng and Pas member of parliament Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi.
Nasrudin had blamed Pakatan for practising double standards, citing the proposed Kinrara-Damansara expressway (Kidex) in Selangor and Penang’s subsea tunnel project.
Pas has also been very vocal about Anwar’s choice of his wife, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, as the new MB to succeed Khalid.
Pas president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang had reportedly told Anwar at a meeting in Kuala Terengganu last week that Pas objected to Dr Wan Azizah’s nomination based on three reasons: her leadership quality, her chances of functioning as Anwar’s proxy in Selangor’s administration and her appointment would break palace and religious protocols.
By the way, the Pas central committee is due to meet today to formally announce whether to accept or reject Dr Wan Azizah’s nomination. A “No” vote could mean Pas walking out of the Pakatan bloc in Selangor.
The Selangor MB issue, which, in the first place, was triggered by a leadership split in PKR, could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, as far as Pas is concerned.
But by Pas walking out of Pakatan in Selangor, or even nationally, it would mean a blow to Pas’ credibility. Non-Muslim voters may punish the party in the next election.
But by doing this, Pas could also send a strong signal that it would want to revert to its traditional support base, which is the Malay heartland in the northeast, after its foray in the west coast states.
Speaking about hypocrisy, PKR and DAP often pride themselves on upholding good governance and party discipline and yet were quick to embrace two Selangor Pas assemblymen who decided to break ranks and walk to the other side.
From a voter perspective, what is happening in Selangor right now clearly underscores PKR’s lack of leadership in running the party and the state.
One question: Why is it always about Anwar and his family?
This is not about Khalid’s integrity or ability to run the state.
This is about Anwar’s family ego. If he goes to jail, the one who will be in charge of the party and the state of Selangor will be his wife. Full stop.

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