Sources tell me that an important meeting involving key leaders of PKR, if not Pakatan, is to take place today.
Agenda : whether to tell all as to the real reason, or reasons, that have us now bracing ourselves for a by-election in Kajang.
Speculation is rife as to what has motivated this forthcoming by-election.
Why all the speculation?
In my view, 2 reasons for this.
First, even before the resignation of the assemblyman on 27th January, it was clear that there was a severe rift in PKR involving the long-running feud between Khalid and Azmin. Hence the speculation whether this might be at the heart of this by-election.
Second, and I think more importantly, PKR failed to properly media manage that resignation and the subsequent announcement of Anwar’s candidacy and the reasons for the same.
Lets take a look at how it all unfolded.
Start with the 3 short paragraphs in Lee Chin Cheh’s press statement, issued on the 27th of January, to announce his resignation.
“Saya mengucapkan jutaan terima kasih dan terhutang budi kepada semua pengundi di Kajang yang telah memberi peluang kepada saya menjadi wakil rakyat DUN N25 Kajang.
Saya terharu dengan kemurahan hati pengundi-pengundi di Kajang yang telah memberi kerjasama dan kepercayaan selama ini kepada saya.
Keputusan saya untuk mengosongkan kerusi DUN N25 Kajang adalah untuk kepentingan bersama dan mengukuhkan kebolehan Pakatan Rakyat berkhidmat untuk rakyat Selangor”.
Akin to one thanking one’s bride for saying “I do” and then telling her later that one is divorcing her for their mutual well-being and for the betterment of the neighbourhood!
Malayiakini, reporting on the resignation, reported that “Anwar had denied that he would be replacing Khalid as the menteri besar” and that a PKR source had said that “Anwar has to step in to diffuse the tension between Khalid and (PKR deputy president) Azmin Ali. The fact is, only Anwar can do it” and that “the PKR leadership was upset with Khalid over certain recent developments like the astronomical pay hike and water issues”.
Next day, at a press conference attended by Khalid and Anwar, the former announces the latter’s candidacy in the Kajang by-election and the latter proffers as an explanation for the same, that he had “no choice” but to contest since the PKR political bureau and Pakatan Rakyat together had decided that he should contest the seat”.
Malaysiakini quotes him in their report as saying, “We are doing this so that we can further optimise our performance in the state”.
Anwar, in truth, said little more than Lee.
Azmin, that same day, said far more.
“Anwar Ibrahim contesting there will send a message to the public that we are serious about Selangor and will use the state as a launchpad for Putrajaya“, Malaysiakini reports him saying.
He is also reported to have said that Lee’s resignation was a tactical move as the “party leadership needed a seat to be vacated” and that “will be discussed” after the by election should there be a “necessity” to do so”.
The next day, the Bersih 2.0 coalition leadership slammed PKR for this latest political development.
“This is a regressive step for democracy because it supports the mistaken notion in Malaysia that elections are about political parties and politicians rather than about the people. The mandate given to an elected representative by the people is something that should not be taken for granted. It is disappointing that in the midst of this political merry-go-round, the people’s interest, like many times before, is forgotten.”, Malaysiakini reports the coalition as saying.
Ambiga pointedly hit the nail on the head.
“I think they owe everybody an explanation” , Malaysiakini reports her as saying.
Taking the cue from Ambiga, Rafizi sought to explain. Malaysiakini has it in full HERE.
I summarise Rafizi’s eloquent effort to educate us on the need for the resignation and Anwar’s candidacy in the by-election.
- PKR ( or did he mean Pakatan?) are facing problems and challenges in Selangor that require intervention
- should Najib be removed, Umno would fall to the ultras led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s faction and unscrupulous attacks and schemes to take Selangor by hook or by crook will begin
- While Khalid’s administration has set an excellent standard in integrity and prudence in managing public funds, there are also other areas that can improve. Selangor has to become Pakatan’s showcase in its quest for Putrajaya.
- PKR and Pakatan are about to face another onslaught from Umno and need fortification to expedite reforms and simultaneously fend off political attacks and manouevring by Umno.
His most telling explanation warrants reproduction in full.
“Hence the decision to field Anwar Ibrahim for a state seat as this provides an option that we can readily exercise, should the need arise. Does this mean there will be a change of stewardship of the Selangor government? Maybe yes, maybe no. But we do have the option to optimise our leadership potential if Umno stirs up more trouble”.
In other words, the way was made clear to allow Anwar to get into the Selangor state assembly so that he would be an option should the need to replace Khalid arise.
First, Selangor has to become the showcase enroute to displacing BN in Putrajaya.
To this, ABU says ‘Let’s get it on!”.
Second, to thwart any attempt by UMNO to re-take Selangor by the most foul means, should Najib be dumped by UMNO / BN.
What, ala Perak takeover by BN in 2009?
Pakatan state assemblypersons crossing over?
Is this the concern, Rafizi?
If so, say so.
Notwithstanding Rafizi’s explanation, public criticism of this whole fiasco continued.
Enter PKR’s latest gun-slinger, Surendran, to silence the critics.
“Much of the criticism has been knee-jerk, poorly reasoned and displays a lack of understanding of party and electoral politics,” Surendran said in a statement today…The critics of the ‘Kajang move’ fail to perceive that a modern democracy cannot effectively function without the crowding and jostling of political parties seeking electoral and political advantage. This political advantage can be sought through every legitimate and permitted method, including by-elections.” , Malaysiakini reports him as saying.
My short answer to Surendran is that it is precisely because I understand the nature of this beast called political party that I choose to serve the people outside of any political party setting.
Getting no clear answers from the politically enlightened like Surendran, or earlier statements by his comrades, and being badgered here, through comments, and outside, for my thoughts on the by-election, I got in touch with my sources to find out for myself.
In the Malaysiakini report referred to here earlier, Azmin was reported to have said that “he should not be blamed for the changes happening in Selangor, saying that he “cannot tell Anwar what to do”.
I am told otherwise.
Azmin is said to have informed Anwar that unless Khalid is removed, many of the PKR state asemblypersons, 11 of whom he claims to be with him, might contemplate resignations, forcing a crisis in the state.
Many reports also have it that the other Pakatan leaders were in the dark on the matters leading up to Lee’s resignation.
Not true, I am told.
At least, they were aware of Azmin’s insistence on Khalid’s removal.
And they were inclined with Azmin on this.
What they could not accept was, as Azmin hoped, that the latter should replace Khalid.
In this regard, the other Pakatan leaders are not alone in rejecting Azmin as a replacement for Khalid.
Many in PKR feel the same.
Hence the need for an ‘option’, as Rafizi put it.
If there is truth to all of this, I will only say that my sympathies are with Anwar.
He is stuck between a rock and a very hard place.
But if all this is true, it begs another more important question.
Why the move, not just by PKR, but Pakatan, too, to remove Khalid?
I probed deeper and wider.
The MB, of late, is inaccessible to many in the Exco, whereas before he was always available.
Deals have gone through without prior consultation with the party higher-ups, whereas before such consultation was the norm.
His silence on the Allah issue, the raid on BSM and the confiscation of the bibles.
The Syabas issue remains unresolved.
And it is expected that he will benefit handsomely from a soon-to be settled court case where he is being sued by Bank Islam.
There is a concern, whether real or contrived, that the MB has, or may, have already turned rogue.
Hence the need to put the option in place.
The high-powered meeting today, I am told, is to decide whether to go public with this.
Whilst, like Ambiga, I would want transparency on this issue, it is subject to this.
That the playing field is level.
Such is not the case now.
The mainstream media is wholly under the thumb of UMNO / BN and you can expect that any official confirmation of any of what I have written here will be spun to the maximum in the run-up to polling day on 23rd March.
In these circumstances, I would understand a decision taken to defer any such disclosure until after polling day.
Other concerns were shared with me.
Is the Pakatan Selangor state government heading into a crisis that it might not recover from should there be a move to replace Khalid after the by-election?
Worse, could saboteurs from within be at work with enemies from the other side to cause a political upset in what, on paper at least, most see as a win that awaits Anwar in Kajang?
Who, from within, would stand to gain by unleashing Judas in Kajang?