EXCLUSIVE: PETALING JAYA: Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s grand design to become the Mentri Besar of Selangor may be unravelling. The incumbent, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, is refusing to resign.
According to high-level sources, Khalid was scheduled to sign a post-dated letter of resignation drawn up by the PKR leadership but he has avoided doing so.
The confidential resignation letter is part of the ambitious plan to clear the way for Anwar to take over the top post in Selangor.
The letter is believed to be dated March 23 – the day when Kajang voters go to the polls.
The letter is premised on the assumption that Anwar will win the Kajang by-election, join the Selangor Legislative Assembly and move into the Mentri Besar’s post.
State government sources also told The Star that Khalid had indicated to the palace that he would not be stepping down.
“He said he felt played out by Anwar,” said a source.
Khalid briefed the Sultan on the political situation in Selangor during his weekly audience on Wednesday.
It is understood the Sultan, who is well versed on the State Constitution, is not expected to interfere but will adhere strictly to the letter of the law.
Since Khalid’s audience with the Sultan, he has been observed to be in a “bouncy mood” and sporting cheery smiles.
Observers said his hair, often seen as his “mood meter”, has also been neatly groomed, indicating his upbeat mood.
However, Khalid will have to battle the “numbers game” in his bid to stay on.
It is learnt that DAP is pushing for a special Pakatan Rakyat meeting in the coming week.
A senior DAP figure has informed PKR leaders that if PKR could not handle Khalid, the party would take the lead to apply pressure on him.
Khalid has reportedly lost the support of a faction of Selangor DAP, which is dissatisfied with the way he handled the Bible seizure issue.
However, not all DAP assemblymen are expected to go along and a group led by a Selangor DAP strongman is continuing to back Khalid.
According to the sources, Khalid has been upset by statements coming from PKR leaders after Anwar was named the by-election candidate.
Among them were remarks by Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli – the brains behind the Kajang by-election – who said Anwar was a better politician and would do a better job in Selangor.
Rafizi had described Khalid as a technocrat who was not skilled or experienced enough to handle racial and religious issues.
Anwar’s subsequent statements about his plans for Selangor also did not go down well with Khalid who felt it was disrespectful to him as the sitting Mentri Besar.
Moreover, The Star online poll had placed Khalid as the clear preference for Mentri Besar. Khalid received 43% of support, followed by Rafizi at 24%, Anwar at 21%, state exco member Iskandar Samad of PAS at 8% and PKR deputy president Azmin Ali at 4%.
More recently, those around Khalid have been critical of Anwar’s proposal to involve former Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib in Selangor’s rural development programmes.
Anwar’s proposal, aired during a ceramah in Kajang on Wednesday night, was seen as a contradiction to what Pakatan stands for, given the controversies associated with Mat Taib, as the former Umno leader is known.
However, Anwar and Mat Taib go back a long way because they were in the same Wawasan Team during the 1996 Umno election when money flowed like water.
When The Star broke the story that Anwar was planning to replace Khalid, there was a firestorm of reactions. The Star exclusive also reported that a by-election was expected to be held.
Kajang assemblyman Lee Chin Cheh resigned the day the report was published and Anwar was confirmed as the candidate the next day.
Since then, Anwar has dropped broad hints that he will be the next Mentri Besar.