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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

Khalid and Azmin in tussle over Malaysia’s richest state

Posted: 06 May 2013 02:45 PM PDT

PKR's Azmin Ali has made no secret of his ambition of becoming Selangor mentri besar. But many attribute the Opposition's gains in the state to the popularity of Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim.

It's common knowledge that the younger generation of Pakatan supporters are split between Team Izzah and Team Azmin. PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail, too, is said to have issues with Azmin. Rumour has it that Dr Wan Azizah was not fielded in Selangor because of this.

Tashny Sukumaran, The Star

WHO will be Selangor's next mentri besar?

Although Pakatan Rakyat swept to power in the state, gaining eight seats for a total of 44 out of 56 in the state assembly, there might be instability as the previously dominant PKR is now the junior partner.

While both PAS and DAP scored 15 state seats each, PKR won one less with 14.

Those aligned to incumbent Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim point to the massive gains as a sign of approval.

But Pakatan has not decided who will lead the nation's richest state and indeed, whether he will be from PKR.

Khalid has assured the rakyat that Pakatan's top leaders will make a decision within a week.

"The decision has not been made (yet)," he told reporters.

However, it is expected to be a straight fight between two men Khalid and PKR firebrand Azmin Ali.

Azmin, the party's deputy president, has allegedly been gunning for the mentri besar post for years.

The highly-publicised spat between him and Khalid's political secretary Faekah Husin who is fiercely protective of her boss is touted as proof of the rivalry between Khalid and Azmin.

There was further controversy last October when Azmin told a Malay daily that Khalid would be made a minister if Pakatan seized Putrajaya and would be vacating the mentri besar's position.

Azmin is very much Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's man but whispers of friction between him and PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar only serve to add fuel to the fire.

It's common knowledge that the younger generation of Pakatan supporters are split between Team Izzah and Team Azmin.

PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail, too, is said to have issues with Azmin.

Rumour has it that Dr Wan Azizah was not fielded in Selangor because of this.

Despite his clashes with Anwar's wife and daughter, Azmin still has the Opposition leader's ear.

And thanks to Anwar's backing, the Bukit Antarabangsa assemblyman may take on Khalid.

Behind closed doors, elected representatives and candidates make no secret of their allegiances.

A source close to Khalid said Azmin had picked candidates he could control.

"He chooses his own people to make sure everyone is in his pocket. But Azmin needs to realise the rakyat accept Khalid."

The source accused him of putting his candidates in safe seats.

The source said it was an open secret Azmin frequently meddled in Selangor matters for his own political mileage.

When Khalid, who won the Port Klang state seat in GE13, first entered the scene, he was viewed as a political novice but a seasoned corporate leader.

A member of the National Productivity Council, he was also chief executive of state-run investment fund Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) and CEO of what is now Kumpulan Guthrie Berhad.

Azmin has been close to Anwar since the age of 23, serving as his special officer in 1987 when the Permatang Pauh MP was Education Minister.

When Anwar was convicted of sodomy and corruption, Azmin was one of PKR's founding members.

His loyalty knows no bounds, to the extent of being convicted for lying in court during Anwar's trial. He was later acquitted. However, the court proceedings effectively ensured he could not participate in the 2004 general election.

Some have questioned if Azmin can and should be mentri besar as he was born in Singapore, not Selangor.

But according to a national-level PKR leader, Azmin is allowed by the Selangor constitution to become mentri besar.

"Pakatan did well in Selangor thanks to Khalid. The rakyat retained us because they thought they'd continue with him as mentri besar."

The leader said that as PKR's seats had been reduced, the party would have to consult DAP and PAS closely.

"DAP and PAS are both very much behind Khalid. Azmin will make an attempt to grab the post but he doesn't have the popularity."

However, there have been whispers that PAS is eager to submit a name for consideration although sources say the party will not push for it for the sake of preserving Pakatan's unity.

But the PKR leader confirmed that in closed-door meetings, Khalid had support. The caretaker mentri besar also met the Selangor Sultan yesterday.

"It will probably be Khalid. Azmin may have had a chance before but now the political landscape is different."


Will BN court DAP?

Posted: 06 May 2013 02:37 PM PDT

If the Chinese community wants proper representation in the federal government, it will not come from MCA or Gerakan right now.

Athi Shankar, FMT

No doubt it was a Chinese tsunami that swept across Penang on Sunday's polling day.

Pakatan Rakyat retained this island-state with an increase of one state seat to 30 against Barisan Nasional's 10, all won by Umno.

BN compensated its one seat loss in Seberang Jaya by regaining Balik Pulau parliamentary seat, also by Umno.

Like the 2008 general election, MCA, Gerakan and MIC have all been wiped out yet again. Predictions that BN may give a closer fight this time was a false alarm.

It was a worse defeat for BN than in 2008 looking at size of majority gained by Pakatan winners, especially in Chinese areas.

With just a stroke of a pen, the Chinese have sent a clear message to BN that they wanted the coalition out of their political system.

Humiliated state BN chairman Teng Chang Yeow, who lost in Bukit Tengah state constituency, took responsibility for the defeat and resigned immediately from his position.

He had also quit as Gerakan secretary-general, noting that the Chinese had rejected his leadership and his party in Penang.

It is amazing to see the change of fortune of a party that once ruled Penang for 39 years.

It is true that the Chinese tsunami wiped out Gerakan and MCA, enabling the DAP to emerge as champion of the community.

The main reason for the ethnic Chinese community to back Pakatan, especially the DAP in Penang, is their hatred against Umno and BN.

It was clear in the run in to the election, Pakatan supporters, dominated by Chinese were in uncompromising mood.

Their drive for "Ubah … Ini Kalilah" was beyond reasons. One can't talk to them with justified reasons. They were simply not listening. They didn't want to listen. They had made up their minds.

They were unmoved no matter how much one exposed flaws, shortcomings and wrongdoings of Pakatan.

They were confident that Anwar Ibrahim and company would capture the central government, and they were single-minded to change the central power.

What's next?

Former Gerakan and MCA assemblyman Lim Boo Chang said the Chinese got carried away and went for overkill after putting false hopes on Anwar.

"Chinese voters believed Pakatan would capture the federal government," he said.

Some blamed the overdose of "IMalaysia" parties for two weeks for BN's electoral debacle.

But the Chinese tsunami was national phenomena, not just in Penang. The Chinese were feasting themselves, eating freely all food items, receiving angpows, goodies and lucky draw prizes at these parties.

But on polling day, they voted against BN, and cast their ballots for DAP and company.

Many are proud that they have outsmarted BN this time, fully satisfied with their revenge.

But, what now after this?

Some suggested that everyone put the election behind them and concentrate on national unity and socio-economic growth.

They said winners and losers should never be carried away with the results.

"Don't over politicised the results. Stop the blame game. Don't waste time and government resources in politicking," were their wishes.

Some expressed concern that Penang may not be able to survive with an "opposition" state government for another term without the support of the federal government.

Naturally those who backed Pakatan hopes that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak government would not discriminate, isolate and sideline Penang.

They are praying that Putrajaya would not resort to "punitive actions". If Putrajaya punished Penangites, especially on fiscal policies, the Chinese here can be crippled.

The economically vibrant Chinese and "privileged" Malays may be able to survive for few more years but the downtrodden Indians would be the biggest victims.

Some said BN should do some soul-searching if it wants to win back the Chinese voters. They want BN to accept the people's verdict and, be fair and just in its future policies.

At the same time, some observers said the Chinese should also wake up and reflect on what they want. They said Chinese must see on what were their actual needs than mere material needs.

It is also amazing and amusing to notice the anti-graft stance among Pakatan supporters who before the polls were hitting hard at BN as a corrupted entity that should be wiped out from the earth.

After polls, they suddenly and surprisingly expressed hopes that the DAP join the same "corrupted" BN to provide Chinese representation in the federal government.



‘Chinese tsunami’ hits Malaysian politics

Posted: 06 May 2013 02:33 PM PDT

"For the very first time in Malaysia's political history… the Chinese have decided to vote as a bloc and they have decided to vote the opposition," said James Chin, a lecturer with Monash University.

(AFP) - Malaysia's Chinese minority has for decades gone about its business and left leadership to a Malay-dominated regime, but in weekend polls they deserted it in what the premier called a "Chinese tsunami".

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's term has since gone viral, touching off a debate over whether Sunday's bitter election battle presages a deepening divide between increasingly assertive urban Chinese and the country's majority Muslim Malays.

"Overall, the results show a trend of polarisation which worries the government," Najib said after declaring victory Monday, ruefully noting a "tsunami from the Chinese community."

Malaysia has enjoyed relative harmony among its main ethnicities for decades under the authoritarian template of the Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition, but the mere mention of racial tension remains a sensitive issue.

The political and economic system is built on decades-old policies that prop up Malays to prevent dominance by the Chinese, who immigrated under British colonialism and control much of the economy despite making up just a quarter of the 28-million population.

Umno, which has towered over Barisan and the country since independence in 1957, routinely refers to deadly 1969 racial riots as a warning against minorities threatening this status quo.

But minority Chinese and Indians increasingly reject their "second-class" status, egged on by an opposition that made its best showing ever Sunday.

"For the very first time in Malaysia's political history… the Chinese have decided to vote as a bloc and they have decided to vote the opposition," said James Chin, a lecturer with Monash University.

Chinese are angry about Barisan corruption and feel "marginalised", he said.

After an often racially divisive campaign by Barisan, which the opposition says was tainted by massive fraud, the regime largely held firm in the 222-seat parliament, retaining a solid majority as core rural Malay support held.

But several urban, Chinese-heavy seats tumbled to the three-party opposition, whose Chinese-dominated DAP was the alliance's big winner, gaining nine seats to end at 38.

The results were a snub to Najib, who reached out to minorities after a 2008 election setback with a much-touted racial-unity programme that is now in tatters.

It is considered imperative in Malaysia for government to project at least a facade of diversity, and Barisan's mix of 13 parties, several ethnic-based, were its claim to legitimacy.

But voters continued to desert its minority parties, which political analysts said increasingly reveals Barisan as a Malay camp under Umno's thumb.

"We're lucky to still be in government at the federal level," said Saifuddin Abdullah, a Barisan reform voice who lost his seat Sunday, citing the "Chinese tsunami."

"There needs to be a new BN (Barisan)," he told online media, adding it was worrying that Barisan won with only a minority of the popular vote.

It held power thanks to a system of seat allocations that, critics say, unfairly favours Barisan strongholds.

But analysts said Najib faces an uphill task wooing back a Chinese community that Umno has routinely made a bogeyman to shore up Malay support.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has for years called for reform of policies that give Malays advantages in business, education and home-buying, which he says are abused by a rich Malay elite.

Sensing the public mood, Najib also has promised some reforms.

But top opposition figure Lim Kit Siang, an ethnic Chinese who heads the DAP, said the country was set for deeper racial trouble if Najib does not fundamentally change the regime's ways.

"So long as he refuses to admit that, so long as he wants to polarise and racialise (the vote results), then they themselves are guilty of a racist outlook and they are incapable of any national reconciliation," he said.



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