KLANG: Intense brainstorming and haggling are going on over the selection of 10 exco members for the state government under newly-minted Selangor Mentri Besar Azmin Ali.
It is understood that PKR wants Azmin to hold the religious affairs portfolio, formerly held by PAS, in an attempt to repair the previous administration's handling of matters involving non-Muslims.
According to sources close to the party, the Bukit Antarabangsa assemblyman was asked to take over the role so the state government could appear "more progressive".
The previous administration of Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim was criticised for its poor handling of the seizure by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department of Malay-language Bibles belonging to the Bible Society of Malaysia.
Azmin has indicated there will be a "fresh" line-up of state executive councillors but his party PKR is likely to retain at least one old face.
A source linked to the mentri besar’s office said former state exco member Elizabeth Wong could be dropped from the new line-up although her name was recommended at a political bureau meeting Tuesday night.
"Nurul Izzah (PKR vice-president) mentioned Wong's name but it is almost confirmed that she will be dropped because she had been appointed as an exco member twice," said the source.
It is understood that her portfolio will be taken over by Rawang assemblyman Gan Pei Nei.
Former exco Rodziah Ismail would also not be reappointed, said the source.
According to a Pakatan Rakyat source, both PKR and DAP want to reduce PAS' seats from four to three.
"The problem is that both DAP and PKR are vying for that one seat as well," he said.
He added that names being tossed around at the PKR headquarters for the exco positions were Dr Xavier Jayakumar (Sri Andalas), Dr Daroyah Alwi (Sementa), Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad (Seri Setia), Haniza Talha (Taman Medan) and Gan Pei Nei (Rawang).
The source said both PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin wanted Nik Nazmi to be included in the line-up, during the political bureau's meeting Tuesday night.
Azmin was also present at the meeting, but has yet to make the final decision.
According to the source, if Dr Xavier is selected, then the DAP will not be able to place in an Indian rep in the line-up as it has always been the practice to have only one Indian exco member.
"So the plan is to bring current Speaker Hannah Yeoh into the exco line-up and appoint an Indian, probably Rajiv Rishyakaran (Bukit Gasing) as the Speaker," he said.
When contacted, a Selangor DAP member said the party was concerned that its Indian support was declining.
"So because of this, DAP will ensure an Indian from the party is appointed an exco member or Speaker," he added.
There was also a push by certain quarters to make the party appoint DAP's Kota Alam Shah rep V. Ganabathirau an exco or Speaker.
However, the DAP member said he believed the party would select Ganabathirau if allowed to add on an additional Indian to the exco but would certainly settle for the more eloquent and articulate Rajiv if it were for the Speaker's position.
He added that there was also the possibility of Gan being appointed the deputy Speaker, as she, too, is quite eloquent.
The source also said DAP's Teng Chang Khim and Ean Yong Hian Wah will remain in the exco line-up.
He added there was little news from the PAS front as it is yet to be known whom the Islamist party will propose on its side.
It is also not known if the PAS leadership would willingly give up one seat and reduce its representation in the exco from four to three seats.
PKR sources also said Azmin did not want to appear to be "divisive" by naming his loyalists, Sri Muda assemblyman Shuhaimi Shafiei and Batu Caves assemblyman Amirudin Shari, as exco members.
"He needs to please the party, too, so he has to make an inclusive decision," said the sources.
Meanwhile, Kota Anggerik assemblyman Yaakob Sapari is said to be hoping for comeback to the new administration after being left out from former mentri besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim's 2013 exco line-up.
Azmin was sworn in as the new Selangor Mentri Besar on Tuesday, and will announce the new exco line-up by Thursday.