Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will contest the Kajang state seat which was vacated yesterday by the resignation of its assemblyman Lee Chin Cheh.
Anwar's candidacy will heighten speculation that he is tipped to take over as Selangor Menteri Besar at a later date to resolve a feud between the Selangor PKR and current Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.
Khalid announced Anwar's candidacy at the PKR headquarters in Petaling Jaya today.
Anwar, who was also present at the packed press conference, fended off suggestions that his candidacy was to pave the way for him to take over from Abdul Khalid.
He insisted that he was running as a state assembly member in order to help strengthen Selangor Pakatan Rakyat's performance in running the state and to build momentum for the coalition's ambitions to take over federal power.
"This decision is for me to help improve the already stellar performance of the state administration under Abdul Khalid.
"It is to make Selangor a base from which to launch our campaign to take over Putrajaya," Anwar said.
His candidacy was announced less than 24 hours after the Selangor assembly confirmed that Lee had resigned.
Abdul Khalid stressed that his status as Menteri Besar was irrelevant to Anwar's candidacy.
"That is not an issue (the Menteri Besar's post). This (Anwar's candidacy) is a boost to improving our performance," Abdul Khalid, who was seated next to Anwar, said.
Abdul Khalid's feud with his party over how he runs the state became an open secret months after he was sworn in for a second term after the 13th general election.
During the state's budget session last October, Abdul Khalid had clashed with Selangor PKR over a hike in the salaries of elected representatives, state executive councillors, the state assembly speaker and the Menteri Besar. Azmin, who is Bukit Antarabangsa assemblyman, and Anwar had opposed the salary increases, some of which were up to 300%.
Abdul Khalid had also been criticised for the amount of funds set aside for development in the state budget which were said to be less than expected compared with the amount allocated for the operating expenditure.
A few weeks ago, things came to a head again between Abdul Khalid and Azmin over the latter's appointment as a director on the board of state property developer Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Selangor (PKNS). Azmin had blamed Abdul Khalid for dropping him as a board member but the latter claimed it was the corporation’s decision.
An investigation is currently underway to get to the bottom of the issue.
At today's press conference, Anwar also attempted to fend off criticism that the party was using the by-election to resolve what is really an internal party crisis.
"We have to explain to the people the rationale of this by-election. It is to give space to a candidate that can help boost the state's administration.
"I will assist the state government in whatever way I can."
Also present at the press conference were DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang and PAS vice-president Salahuddin Ayob.
Both pledged that their parties would help campaign for PKR in the by-election. – January 28, 2014.