The convoluted Anwar and Khalid story

The best recourse for all parties is for both sides to seek a fresh mandate from the people.

THE wonderful thing about democracy (at least in its ideal form) is how both sides of the political divide can rely on established rules and practices when resolving matters of public interest.

Clear-cut rules are laid out, which apply to all and sundry. In this way, conflicts can hopefully be resolved peacefully and the people in charge of government can then focus on administering the state or country.

A leader’s duty is to put the real interests of the people at the top of the list of priorities, not get mired in endless acrimony and politicking. But in the real world called Selangor, reality is proving to be something else.

Let’s look at the situation in Selangor. Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his allies realised they did not have the right number of state assemblymen to pass a resolution in the State Assembly to remove Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim as Mentri Besar.

They should have admitted to the people that they had made a silly mistake in launching the infamous Kajang Move (which they proceeded with even though they knew there was no consensus within the Pakatan Rakyat on this issue). They should have reached out for peace talks with Khalid.

Instead, to hide their irresponsibility, they launched personal attacks against him which had not been heard before. They wanted this war of attrition and public shaming to wear him down into submission.

Surely this is not the moral and mature politics that PKR president Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail spoke about the other day – this is just the opposite. But this is typical of Anwar’s and Rafizi Ramli’s style of politics, which has attracted much support from DAP lately.

They also asked Pakatan’s Selangor state assemblymen to show their hands on this issue of removing Khalid. Well, if that’s a serious proposition then convene a sitting of the Assembly with a no-confidence motion, and we will all then know who will support it and who will not.

Why go around reprimanding the state assemblymen for not showing their hands when none has yet been asked to do so formally? Why is the Pakatan making silly noises and not explaining the real situation to the people?

In trying to give legitimacy to his rule Khalid then resorted to the Palace – as most Malaysian politicians do when in distress – saying the Sultan wanted him to continue in his post.

By this reasoning, an MB can stay on forever as long as the Sultan wants him there, regardless of whether he has the support of the State Assembly. Surely that is not democracy in the 21st century, but the kind of politics more suited for the bygone days of the Caliphate.

Khalid should know that his position in the State Assembly depends on how much support he can muster from the state assemblymen, and the way to demonstrate that support to the public is to call for a vote of confidence. There is no need to seek the grace and permission of the Sultan if he does indeed have the support.

The honourable thing for him to do is not to latch on to the Palace, but to seek a resolution for a vote of confidence in him from the Assembly. In this way, the people of Selangor can know for sure he has their support.

If he fails, then he steps down. If he succeeds, then he should ask to seek audience with the Sultan to form a new state government so that a new team of politicians can work with him in the interests of the state.

The problem with people like Anwar and Khalid is this: they forget that rules and constitutional practices exist to serve the people, and that the people’s mandate is sacrosanct. Where the mandate is uncertain – especially when both sides claim to represent the people’s wishes – then the proper thing to do is to seek a fresh election.

The rules are not there for the purpose of prolonging political combat. Being technically correct in the application of rules that only serve their political position is not good governance.

If Anwar had more respect for the views of the people of Selangor – and his own allies in the Pakatan for that matter – he would not have tried to remove Khalid mid-term when the mandate to govern was given just recently in the 13th general election. If removing Khalid is central to the Pakatan’s political life, then ask PAS to leave the Pakatan for not agreeing with its coalition partners. Why prolong this senseless infighting?

Khalid, too, should be a gentleman. He should be brave enough to ask for a vote of confidence – that’s where legitimacy is found. Do not rush to the Istana for help, because ultimately, a leader can only claim legitimacy from the people. The other kind of legitimacy is the feudal kind, which we do not need to embrace as a democracy.

Both Khalid and Anwar need to stop the mud-slinging and end this feud immediately. The best recourse for all parties is for both sides to seek the dissolution of the Assembly from the Sultan and seek a fresh mandate from the people.

Both men’s claim to represent the people’s interests is hollow at best, unless they are prepared to be judged for their actions. It’s time we move on and find a satisfactory solution to this mess, one that does not disregard the wishes of the electorate.

> Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, the former de facto Law Minister at one time is now a legal consultant but will not hesitate to say his piece on any current issue. He can be reached at The views expressed here are entirely his own.

Zaid Ibrahim