When Pakatan Rakyat supporters lamented that Parti Keadilan Rakyat Malaysia (PKR) has been the weakest link in the coalition, Nathaniel Tan, a PKR stalwart and former private secretary of Anwar Ibrahim, gallantly riposted that PKR is the only link.
But in that, he was proven so wrong during the period leading to and immediately after the nomination of a menteri besar (MB) for the state of Selangor following the completion of the May 2013 state elections.
If we examine the construct of Pakatan in Selangor, with its victorious election outcome, we have Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) holding 15 state seats, the Democratic Action Party (DAP) another 15 seats, and PKR only 14 seats.
Yet prior to any consultation with PAS and DAP, the ‘only link’ was seen squabbling disgracefully among themselves over which PKR assemblyperson should fill the position of the MB, as if PKR had been the political party which won the Selangor state elections by itself.
Perhaps it saw itself as what its ardent supporters have been incorrectly accusing the Barisan Nasional (BN) of, a ‘minority government’. Well, it certainly was behaving like one.
Regarding the PKR intra-party squabbling, one of its factions had even disparaged its own member, Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, the MB of the previous state assembly session, for poor performance, describing him as a lame duck, without even understanding what the term means.
According to Wikipedia, a political lame duck is an elected official who is approaching the end of his or her tenure, especially one whose successor has already been elected. The status can be due to:
- Having lost a re-election bid
- Choosing not to seek another term at the expiration of the current term
- A term limit which keeps the official from running for that particular office again, and
- The abolishment of the office, which must nonetheless be served out until the end of the official's term
Then as if the publicly aired disparagement by PKR against Khalid Ibrahim, its best performing politician, was not bad enough, the Selangor PKR secretary wrote a lamentable letter about him to the Selangor sultan. Terence Netto in his Malaysiakini article ‘Selangor exco saga - a tale with several twists’ revealed to us what transpired:
Thus Pakatan MB-designate Khalid Ibrahim, days before he took the oath of office as MB on May 14, was subjected to the embarrassment of having a letter read out in his presence that was written by the Selangor PKR secretary to the sultan which not-so-subtly undermined Khalid's claims to a second term of office.
Senior state civil servants, known to be proxies of Umno, were present while the letter was read out at a royal audience, causing Khalid no small chagrin.
The criticisms or condemnations against Khalid Ibrahim were nothing more than a tragic intra-party attempt by that faction to prevent him from taking up the MB appointment for another term and to seize same for its most favoured son.
On the other hand if those Pakatan detractors of Khalid Ibrahim fear he may turn out to be a puppet of specifically DAP, then we will shortly see that fear to be unfounded.
Face-saving way out
While Nathaniel Tan’s ‘only link’ twisted itself into an unhappy, avaricious and treacherous knot of Gordian proportion, PAS and DAP with a combined 30 assemblypersons nominated Khalid Ibrahim as their preferred candidate for the MB position. Their preference was further endorsed by Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the party president of PKR, a fortuitous endorsement for some in PKR because it eventually and unwittingly provided a face-saving way out for those against Khalid Ibrahim becoming MB.
But what occurred next ripped the breath of many away as PKR Wanita chief, Zuraida Kamaruddin, unbelievably told DAP and PAS pointedly to stay out on the Selangor MB appointment because, now get this, the post belonged to PKR and it was for the party alone to decide which of its assemblypersons should be MB. It that was not of ketuanan magnitude, I don’t know what would then be.
In a media interview she exclaimed whether the PAS and DAP state assemblypersons were gila kuasa (power crazy), without even recognising the irony of her accusations.
Mind you, those PAS and DAP assemnblypersons had nominated a PKR person to be MB, not one of their own party members.
If I may, I would like to paraphrase one of Anwar Ibrahim’s recent quotes to address Zuraida Kamaruddin for her belief that the Selangor MB post belonged to PKR, “So you think this is your father’s state?”
The sheer preposterousness of her proprietary claim on the MB position would have been a great joke if not for the disturbing cardinal belief by some in PKR that they possess supreme birthrights above their political allies, an indisputable ketuanan mindset. Thus, it indicated Nathaniel Tan’s ‘only link’ has in fact been Pakatan’s ‘only link’ to the ultimate ketuanan party, Umno, incidentally the progenitor of PKR.
Zuraida Kamaruddin has not been the only PKR member who has entertained such arbitrary aggressive and arrogant claim on being the automatic primus inter pares (first among equals) in Pakatan, with a first stake claim on the choicest cut of all Pakatan’s political rights in governments.
For example, the greedy grab of 49 (initially 52) out of 71 seats in the last Sarawak state election was a dismal example of its sad avaricious mentality and arrogant disdain for its Pakatan allies. It was pure grade ketuanan mentality at its worst. The buah langsat certainly hasn't fallen far from the langsat tree.
Thus, when social activist Haris Ibrahim, a man I very much admire and respect, initiated the ABU (Asalkan Bukan UMNO) campaign, I was not supportive of it for the reason that a George Bush-like approach of “either you’re with us or against us” would have unjustly punished as collateral damage those good Barisan Nasional (BN) people, admittedly very few but nonetheless are still there in people like Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, Saifuddin Abdullah, Ong Tee Keat, etc.
But far worse, it would have given an unacceptable carte blanche approval to frightful Pakatan politicians like the ones we have just described.
Arrogance and avarice
Another political activist and renowned blogger, Raja Petra Kamurudin, has been spot on when he clarified that the ABU campaign should be about fighting the lamentable Umno culture of racist supremacy (ketuanan Melayu), arrogance, avarice, corruption, cronyism, etc, and not the political party per se.
And he warned that the terrible Umno culture is not confined to only Umno the political party but has already permeated other parties. You may draw your own conclusion as to which other party outside of Barisan Nasional possesses that culture of ketuanan arrogance and avarice.
Anyway, with the appointment of Khalid Ibrahim as MB settled, and Dr Wan Azizah’s party presidential endorsement of him providing the face saving exit for his detractors, namely, that the ‘disagreement’ of him as MB was euphemistically about due process of consultation within PKR for a consensual nomination of a person for that post, the next round of the comedy or tragedy of errors began with the nomination of the state new executive committee (exco) members, which demonstrated that Khalid Ibrahim has been no puppet of DAP.
When the election results show that both PAS and DAP have won 15 state seats each, while PKR could only manage 14, it was agreed that both former parties’ share of the exco shall be increased from what they had in the previous state parliamentary session, namely from three to four each. But PKR would of course hold the MB position, one worth at least the equivalent of two exco members, and of course the remaining two exco positions.
It would have been a happy and equitable sharing of positions of the equivalent of four each.
But alas, that was not to be, on the alleged basis that the exco must reflect appropriate racial breakdown, where there have to be six Malay excos to four non-Malay members. Sadly, it seems that race continues to dominate virtually every aspects of our everyday lives, even among the subjects of His Royal Highness (HRH) the Sultan of Selangor. The requirement was attributed by Khalid Ibrahim and subsequently by PAS’ Khalid Samad to a royal requirement, to wit, that of HRH.
Story of the two lists
Mind you, HRH has repudiated Khalid Samad’s claim that the long-delayed finalisation of the exco list was due to HRH who allegedly wanted to examine the so-called two lists, one with the ratio of five Malays to five non-Malays as per the previous state parliamentary session, and the other with the 6:4 racial split.
In an angry statement via his private secretary, Mohamad Munir Bani, HRH urged online media and bloggers not to erroneously implicate the palace in the state exco controversy. The royal revelation was that Khalid Ibrahim as the MB had provided HRH with the list on May 20, 2013 before going abroad on medical leave.
The delay in the approval was because Khalid returned to Selangor only a week later and not because HRH was mulling over the so-called two lists. It was suggested HRH’s ire was directed at PAS’ Khalid Samad who came up with the story of the two lists.
But since then, Khalid Samad has come forth to deny he had attributed the delay to HRH.
There have been so many twists and turns in this affair that one doesn’t know what or who to believe, but rest assured that political skullduggery appears to be well and truly alive in Selagor.
Leaving aside the alleged involvement of the palace, it was painfully noticeable that Khalid Ibrahim did what would be considered ungentlemanly before he left for abroad, in unilaterally announcing via just a cowardly tweet the revised composition of the Selangor exco, which saw the agreed four exco positions for DAP reduced to three.
Couldn’t he have phoned DAP to advise his reason for the amendments, but then, we have been familiar with the lamentable PKR habit, of making unilateral decisions or policies on Pakatan (not PKR) issues, with their allies only learning of them via the media.
Thus it left Tony Pua, DAP Selangor deputy chief, bewildered on what was obviously an overturning of a Pakatan agreement on the exco composition. And of course Khalid Ibrahim was conveniently not around to answer why there was been a change to DAP’s disadvantage.
But from HRH’s revelation via his private secretary that Khalid Ibrahim had submitted the exco nominations to the palace prior to his departure for overseas, it would suggest that his tweeted message had already reflected the list submitted to HRH, lending doubts as to whether there was even a second list with the 5:5 racial ratio.
Be that as it was, even if HRH required a 6:4 makeup in the state exco, that would have been easily fulfilled with the four PAS members and two from PKR, which would still allow DAP to staff the exco with four of its assemblypersons.
Why then has DAP’s exco members being reduced to three?
That has been because Khalid Ibrahim wanted Elizabeth (Eli) Wong in the exco as well. Eli Wong is very well regarded within her party or at least within Khalid Ibrahim’s faction. She has been undeniably a commendable and very hard working exco member in the previous state parliamentary session and is obviously a favourite of the MB because she has been totally loyal to him, not unlike Faekah Husin.
But alas, Eli Wong is not a Malay in our very race-conscious world, and unless the Selangor exco could be expanded to eleven places to accommodate her, she could only be admitted at the expense of a non-Malay position, which obviously has to come from the DAP’s allocation of four.
I just wonder how Xavier Jeyakumar who has been dropped from the exco list must have felt in not being allocated that non-Malay position naughtily plucked from DAP's allocation. It was left to DAP (minus one exco seat) to place the sole Indian in the Selangor exco.
Khalid Ibrahim has been known for his famous 1981 ‘dawn raid’ on Guthrie Plantations in the London Stock Exchange, and he has certainly put his skill in raiding one of DAP’s exco positions without the victim even knowing about it until Khalid’s tweet came on the air, and I suspect that could have been why Khalid flew off abroad after tweeting the announcement to avoid explaining in person to DAP he has chucked out of the window the agreement DAP would be entitled to a fair share of four exco positions for its strength in the Selangor state assembly.
Just to remind ourselves, HRH’s royal requirement for the 6:4 ratio would still have been met with DAP having four exco position. DAP lost its fourth exco position because Khalid Ibrahim or PKR wanted Eli Wong to also be in the exco.
This means that PKR as the smallest Pakatan component now has the lion’s share of the cabinet positions in holding the post of MB (worth the equivalent of at least two exco) and three excos, or an undeserved total of the equivalent of five exco positions.
Now, what was it that I said about the ketuanan mentality of PKR?
Ironically in February 2009 when Eli Wong was being challenged by the most trying moments of her political career, and when strong support from her own party would have consoled and assured her she was a victim rather than a scoundrel, Khalid Ibrahim did not intially show that crucial support and prevaricated, stating: ” … Wong was a victim but her willingness to resign from all posts is a selfless decision on her part to protect PKR because she is well aware that BN will continue to exploit the issue to damage the party”, obviously keen to see her go.
Then, in a further example of distancing himself from Eli’s predicament, he stated in a Malaysiakini report that his government would seek the views of HRH Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah on how it should deal with the controversy surrounding executive councillor Elizabeth Wong.
What controversy? Eli Wong was a victim of an unscrupulous criminal voyeur. And Khalid Ibrahim as the MB, the political head of the state, wanted to run to HRH for a political-party decision?
Susan Loone, now a Malaysiakini journalist and once one of Malaysia’s top socio-political bloggers, wrote in her blog ‘I weep over Eli Wong’s resignation’ in which she stated:
This blog mourns for Elizabeth Wong, the Bukit Lanjan state assembly woman who has been pressured to resign...
I know it was the party she represented - PKR - who asked her to resign. And that to me, may be a strategic but a most disheartening thing to do. It gives credence to gutter politics, to sleaze and evil politicking, within and without the party.
It was only when growing public support of Eli Wong proved to be so strong that PKR and Khalid Ibrahim began to find courage, no doubt assisted in large part by the fact that BN’s Nazri Abdul Aziz and Chew Mei Fun, both ministers on the opposite side of the political fence, also spoke out loud for Eli.
Khalid Ibrahim might have been a good leader for Selangor in terms of business and financial governance, but as a politician he lacked and I suspect still lacks political courage.
In the sorry saga of Eli Wong, and it’s sorry on Khalid’s part (or lack of), Khalid acquired a wee bit of notoriety for running away from sensitive issues or hard decisions, which might also have been the case in the recent exco controversy. In a perverted sense it shows he is not a puppet of the DAP.
Disease of 3-Cs
Another example was in 2008, when the issue of the Selangor deputy MB position was being aired to his immense discomfort because Teresa Kok was proposed for the role, Teresa Kok was jokingly described, among DAP people, as suffering from the disease of 3-Cs, being Chinese, Christian and Chabor (Chinese for woman), which made her candidature as deputy MB a challenge for Khalid Ibrahim, especially at a time when Hasan Ali was the Selangor PAS state leader. He showed the same lamentable lack of willingness to make a stand.
It was alleged that the same Muhammad Munir Bani, HRH’s private secretary, had advised Khalid Ibrahim about the palace's ‘preference’ for a Malay deputy MB.
However, when further queried, Muhammad Munir denied reports that HRH wanted ‘a deputy from a particular race’ (meaning 'Malay'), but instead, in a Malaysiakini report, stated differently that the sultan was the religious head for Islam and Malay culture, and thus the MB has the task of assisting in these duties, which in his absence would also have to handled by his deputy.
Thus we observed that what he uttered in the first instance had nothing to do with HRH but was of his own interpretation.
Mind you, he hasn't been the only one who misused (and still misuses) HRH's name in order to get what he/she personally wants or is personally inclined towards.
Then, Malaysiakini reported in ‘Expert: No legal need for Malay deputy MB’ that Dr Abdul Aziz Bari, a constitutional expert who had then lectured law at Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia, dismissed Munir’s claims that the deputy MB should ideally be a Malay to assist the MB in Islamic and cultural duties.
Abdul Aziz Bari said: “The Sultan of Selangor does not need the menteri besar or the deputy menteri besar in matters pertaining to religion and Malay custom.”
According to Dr Aziz Bari, the sultan, as the head of Islamic matters and the Malay adat, was (still is) in fact the person in charge of such matters in the state, and not the MB or his deputy.
He said: “Matters cited by the palace are entirely within the sultan's jurisdiction. As the sultan may act on his own discretion on these matters, the constitution provides that a council may be appointed to assist him. This is what is commonly known as religious councils or majlis agama, which looks after the religious department or the jabatan agama. In the other four states and federal territories, the Agong will have the same establishment.”
Dr Aziz Bari also commented that a prolonged delay in the appointment of a deputy MB was unnecessary and might even be unconstitutional.
So subsequently when Khalid Ibrahim was asked whether the appointment of a deputy MB (of Teresa Kok) had been postponed or scrapped altogether, he side-stepped the issue by stating the need to explain the matter (what?) properly to the people (who?), and that he would do this after the executive councillors had been sworn-in (why?)
Anyway, had he ever done that in the last five years?
Finally we come to PKR (not Pakatan) worst kept secret, the appointment of Saifuddin Nasution, the PKR secretary-general, as Selangor political liaison officer to handle Pakatan (not PKR) political affairs in the state.
PKR party members had earlier complained about Khalid Ibrahim’s by-the-book administration which wasn’t to their liking. Thus the post was mooted at PKR’s (not Pakatan’s) 9th National Congress and approved by Anwar Ibrahim to oversee the creation of more infrastructure development and welfare programmes in Selangor and which will be funded from a rich state reserves of some RM2.6 billion.
Intra-party quid pro quo
Many suspecting it was an intra-party quid pro quo for the MB’s post going to Khalid instead of Azmin Ali. Thus I am not convinced by Azmin Ali’s expressed concerns over Saifuddin Nasution's appointment. I opine that Azmin Ali wants to openly distance himself from the state political liaison officer appointment because of the pending party elections.
So in the end, we have PKR, the party with the least number of state seatsin Pakatan holding the positions of MB (worth at least two exco), three exco (one at the expense of DAP), the newly-created state political liaison officer, and the deputy speaker (Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad).
According to political observers, PAS has been terribly unhappy about this PKR (not Pakatan) political liaison officer appointment, one which will handle projects funded by the Pakatan savings of RM2.6 billion. PAS is said to suspect that PKR is trying to control the most developed state in the country.
Just imagine how PAS’ fears would be increased by what Khalid Ibrahim said of Saifuddin Nasution’s appointment, namely that “the exact role for Saifuddin within the state would be determined at a meeting among PKR leaders” as reported by the Malaysiakini article ’Selangor MB: Saifuddin appointed to aid rural growth’.
‘ … would be determined at a meeting among PKR leaders’, and there we were, believing the state was ruled by Pakatan and not just PKR. As I mentioned, PKR must have believe it’s the ruling government, albeit a ‘minority government’.
Perhaps that has been why Chempaka assemblyperson Iskandar Samad has asserted PAS’ rights to one of its party vice-presidents serving also as Selangor political liaison officer, since the post is supposed to look after Pakatan affairs. Iskandar Samad reminded Khalid Ibrahim that PAS won 15 state seats in Selangor, obviously alluding to PKR being the Pakatan member with the least number of state seats.
He stated succinctly, “Selangor is unique because, apart from being a ‘PAS state’, it is also a ‘DAP state’ and ‘PKR state’. No party can claim this state as their state because the total number of state seats of each party is almost equal. It is actually a ‘Pakatan Rakyat state’.”
But Khalid Ibrahim responded in tepid fashion that he would be prepared to consider PAS’ (and DAP’s) request for the post(s) “If there are those from DAP or PAS who have the capacity like Saifuddin...”
Okay, then let us examine who is Saifuddin Nasution and what has been his capacity, apart from his position of party (PKR, not Pakatan) secretary-general.
In the recent general election, he was rejected by the voters of the federal constituency of Kulim Bandar Baru (won by PKR in 2008), where his Umno opponent Abdul Aziz Sheik Fadzir defeated him by a credible majority of nearly 4,000 votes.
As the rakyat had rejected his attempt to be a people’s representative, is his appointment as Selangor political liaison officer the ‘PKR ketuanan’ equivalent of the BN using the Senate as a backdoor to the cabinet for their politicians who were rejected by the rakyat?
Perhaps at this stage, it may be worthwhile revisiting Terence Netto’s Malaysiakini’s article titled 'Selangor MB's pol sec Faekah at bay' in which he said of Khalid Ibrahim, as follows:
However, he has been slow to recognise as the PKR leader of a state regarded as a jewel in the federal crown that politics is also about providing opportunities, rewarding loyalties and managing expectations of the party faithful.
Ravening for rewards
Oblivious of these aspects of his role as MB, he has courted trouble with sections of the party - mainly ex-Umno members - whose 10 years (1998-2008) in the political wilderness before the Selangor government was captured by a PKR-led opposition has had them ravening for whatever rewards were to be had.
Please mark in particular Netto’s words in “... politics is also about providing opportunities, rewarding loyalties... of the party faithful” and “... mainly ex-Umno members - ... ravening for whatever rewards were to be had...”.
But wait, there’s more.
Recall that sometime in 1996, there was an international conference in Kuala Lumpur called the second ‘Asia-Pacific Conference on East Timur’ (APCET II), which was convened to propose a peaceful solution to the Indonesian militant oppression of East Timorese in Dili. The conference was held at Asia Hotel.
APCET II was violently disrupted by hooligans mainly from Umno Youth and forced to be abandoned. One of those thugs was Saifuddin Nasution, then No 3 in the Umno Youth hierarchy. In court he admitted it was indeed an Umno-orchestrated attack on the international conference. He thus has on his curriculum vitae the added qualification of violent wrecker of international conference.
Then-PM Dr Mahathir was in Ghana when the violence occurred at Asia Hotel, but the acting PM boasted of the forced abandonment of APCET II by declaring openly, “Our mission was to stop the conference and we did just that.”
That person was Anwar Ibrahim!
So there we are, where we have Anwar Ibrahim, Khalid Ibrahim, Zuraida Kamaruddin, Azmin Ali, Saifuddin Nasution all in the same party called PKR, the party with the ketuanan mindset.
above is my letter to Malaysiakini, published this afternoon