State opposition chief Datuk Seri Dr Khir Toyo said PKR vice-president Azmin Ali’s promotion to Selangor party chief in place of Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim will widen cracks instead of uniting the party.
“Selangor is now a ship with three captains and we know what will happen soon,” Dr Khir told The Malaysian Insider.
PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who incidentally also Selangor economic advisor, made the changes last weekend following a revolt against the Selangor mentri besar’s political leadership in the state.
“So we have Anwar for the economy, Azmin for politics and Khalid for administration, it’s the wrong move,” said the former Selangor mentri besar, who lost the state in Election 2008.
He said it was going to be awkward for Khalid because the mentri besar is usually the party’s state leader, a tradition started by Umno. All three PKR leaders he mentioned were from Umno.
But Dr Khir (picture) pointed out that Anwar had little choice but to make the concessions to Azmin, who he described as the federal Opposition leader’s “blue-eyed-boy”.
Azmin, who is Gombak MP and Bukit Antarabangsa assemblyman, is widely believe to behind the “push” by 15 PKR MPs who reportedly wanted Khalid removed. The party has denied there was such a move, blaming it on media spin.
But Dr Khir also said there was no way Anwar could remove Khalid as mentri besar even if he wanted to as that decision lies with the state assembly.
He maintained that Khalid leadership is being propped up by DAP which like PKR has 13 seats in the 56-seat state assembly. PAS has eight seats, PSM a single seat while Barsian Nasional (BN) has 21 seats.
Dr Khir expects the leadership tussle to continue despite the latest changes.
“It will be good for Umno if we know how to capitalise on it,” he said.
However, he admitted Selangor Umno is still weak after its historic losses in 2008.
“There is not enough strategic thinkers in Umno Selangor, so we will have to wait and see.”
Snap general elections are expected as early as next year and the battle for Selangor, which is Malaysia’s most developed state, is expected to be hard-fought.
However PR state backbenchers and MPs are welcoming Azmin’s appointment and played down any negative political impact of his appointment.
PKR’s M. Muthiah said it was a good move because there will be delegation of duties between the state administration under Khalid and party’s leadership under Azmin.
A major grouse against Khalid was his inability to both govern the state and manage the party’s affairs in Selangor ahead of the general elections
“It’s the right move because the party was somewhat neglected.” said the PKR Bukit Melawati Assemblyman.
A PAS assemblyman who declined to be name said the move would provides a balance between the social development of the state and the political development of PR.
“I hope Azmin’s appointment will complement Khalid leadership.”
He said PR backbenchers wanted a greater say in the development ofn their constituency but have been constrained by red tape.
“Maybe Khalid feared there would be corruption if we got involved but we are closer to the ground and we know the needs in our areas,” the PAS man said.
He said mechanism can always be developed to check corruption.
DAP’s Charles Santiago said there was nothing wrong with Azmin’s appointment so long as both he and Khalid can move forward.
“Both must reach an amicable agreement to work together.”
PAS’s Khalid Samad echoed Santiago’s sentiments.
“I personally believe it will be good for PR,” said the Shah Alam MP.