Khalid is his own man

  • Analysis
  • Wednesday, 22 Jan 2014

Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has come under fire from PKR for his handling of the PKNS controversy, but he is also showing his party who is the boss in Selangor.

Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has a hot mess on his hands. The uproar over the sacking of PKR deputy president Azmin Ali from the board of PKNS (Selangor Development Corporation) is growing rather than going away.

The termination of Azmin as a board member has become a full-blown issue with everybody pointing fingers and no one willing to take the blame. The whole thing is starting to resemble some sort of political whodunit mystery and an investigation headed by the state secretary has been ordered to find out who was responsible for Azmin’s sacking.

A total of three top officials from PKNS have become the fall guys in this sorry matter and have been removed from their posts. General manager Datuk Othman Omar and executive secretary Norita Mohd Sidek were reassigned to general duties in the state secretariat while deputy general manager Norazlina Zakaria has been sent to a state subsidiary.

The perception is that they are being punished for contradicting the Mentri Besar in his claim that PKNS terminated Azmin’s services. They had maintained that PKNS acted on the instruction of the state executive council.

But Khalid said it was to facilitate the probe, the implication being that certain individuals have done things without his knowledge or approval.

Technically speaking, Khalid, as the chairman of the PKNS board, has the power to remove or appoint board members. But he is obliged to consult his party on political appointees to the board.

Almost everyone at the PKR supreme council meeting last week disapproved of the way Khalid had handled the matter.

They felt he did not show respect to the party and the deputy president. To put it more plainly, they thought Khalid was out to fix his nemesis.

The controversy has also pitched Khalid against his party boss Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. Anwar had publicly stated that Azmin’s termination was not valid and instructed Khalid to reinstate Azmin.

Khalid thanked his party boss and said he would consider the request. But on Monday, after chairing a PKNS board meeting, Khalid insisted that Azmin is still out. It was the usual Khalid’s modus operandi – don’t argue with the boss, act humble, agree with everything and do as he likes.

He also claimed that Anwar has assured him that his Mentri Besar position is intact and he is in no danger of being replaced.

Khalid, according to one PKR politician, is out of control.

At last week’s supreme council meeting, those around the table had voiced their concern about the PKNS issue. None of them had anything positive to say and the consensus was that Khalid has to go.

Finally, Youth chief Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin said that, to be fair, those who disagreed that Khalid has to go be given the chance to say their piece. When no one spoke, Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli again called for views in defence of Khalid. Again, there was silence in the room.

That was when Anwar concluded: “Okay, the consensus is clear.”

The consensus, according to a party insider, was that Khalid’s days are numbered and his fate rests in Anwar’s hands.

The irony is that very few people in the party believe that Anwar has the political will to act against Khalid. They think the PKR numero uno is too caught up with his international travels and his court case.

The populist in Anwar is often reluctant to make tough decisions. Some think he is essentially a soft-hearted man, others claimed he does not want to cross his wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan who is a staunch ally of Khalid.

Besides, he is well-accepted by the Pakatan Rakyat parties. The urban middle-class also like him, they think he is clean and that is an plus point in his favour.

Meanwhile, the conversation on Twitter about Khalid has been quite critical and also funny, with commentary alluding to the whole thing as “gone haywire”, calling the Mentri Besar “gila” (crazy) and claiming he is going to resign.

Khalid has his supporters as evident in the readers’ commentary in an established online news portal. But his critics complained that the news portal has been blacking out their remarks on Khalid.

The problem is that very few people, even those who are not with Azmin, believe that the Mentri Besar is innocent of Azmin’s sacking.

Sacking a board member who is also the board’s working committee chairman is a major decision that no government servant would make on their own.

The attempt to put the blame on the government officials is reminiscent of the infamous “broom episode” during which Datuk Seri Khir Toyo had humiliated state government servants for their shortcomings.

Worse, the PKNS officials have been deemed “guilty” and punished even as an investigation is going on.

The Selangor Mentri Besar office is a coveted seat, but it has often been perceived as a jinxed seat because very few Mentris Besar have been able to exit the post with their reputation intact or with dignity. Is history about to repeat itself?

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