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Sunday, June 29, 2014

QUESTIONS SURROUNDING THE MB BASHING

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Dr Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser
“Who wants to be a Menteri Besar?”
“I do…” says Khalid Ibrahim. His comrades in PKR think otherwise. DAP is not too hot on him either. Nor is PAS, although it seems numero uno Hadi Awang has not given the thumbs down yet. PKR even went to the extent of concocting the “Kajang Move” to ease Khalid out by trying to bring in PR “de facto” leader Anwar Ibrahim through what turned out to be a botched by-election.
Who would want to be the Selangor Menteri Besar right now with all your comrades slamming you right left and centre? Nevertheless, there are stark questions the MB bashers need to ask themselves, namely:
* How do the PR parties choose their MB?
* How does a Menteri Besar who has all along been portrayed by his comrades as very competent and an outstanding administrator suddenly be publicly lambasted as a liability to PKR?
* On what basis did party perceptions of him change so radically?
* Has Khalid Ibrahim suddenly turned rogue, and if so, in what specific way?
* And if he did turn rogue, when did this happen? Post-2013 for him to be reappointed MB?
I am no fan of Khalid. I have consistently critiqued his policies on free water, highways development, hefty pay increase for state assembly representatives and lack of initiatives to tackle many pressing infrastructural, environmental and social problems in Selangor. Nevertheless, I find it distasteful and perplexing that his PR comrades have suddenly decided to dump him and to do so is such a rude manner, with not an iota of sopan santun.
These are questions they might want to ask themselves:
-          How did they choose him in the first place in 2008? Did he just happen to be a corporate ally of DSAI?
-          Did they oppose the populist (highly irresponsible) free water policy when it was announced or did they also think it was a great way to win votes?
-          Did they oppose his hefty pay increase for ADUNs when it was first announced or was it after the uproar from the public?
-          Did they oppose the highways development and the violation of the state park as soon as they were announced or did they oppose them only after the public protests?
-          Were they powerless to stop the bible seizure by JAIS?
-          Is there no collective leadership in the state government? If not, is a collective approach top of today’s political agenda or does the agenda stop at ousting Khalid?
Principled politics or realpolitik?
The cynical would interpret the anti-Khalid move as simply realignment within the party as a result of the balance of forces in favour of Khalid’s rival in the party leadership race. Everyone could see how Khalid Ibrahim’s rival and MB hopeful flexed his muscles during the GE13 candidates’ selection. Those who have come out to attack Khalid can now see which side their PKR bread is buttered!
As for the rest of PR, pinning all the PR policy failures on one man, Khalid Ibrahim, seems like a convenient attempt to absolve them from blame when the next election comes round.
But then, what does it tell us about policy-making in PKR and PR? Does one man decide all policies? Have they forgotten their criticisms of the old BN authoritarian who ruled this country for more than two decades? No, PKR and PR leaders cannot shrug off their responsibility so easily by putting all the responsibility on one man. How did they allow this state of affairs to happen? Why haven’t they put in place a democratic mechanism to ensure such a situation does not ever arise again?
After all, Khalid Ibrahim is not even the DE FACTO leader of PKR or PR. The “Kajang Move” was an unwitting admission that DSAI was not the de facto leader of PKR or PR. Since DSAI is not even the de jure leader, he must be the de apparent leader. PR could have done with some good de facto leadership of the coalition in the years since 2008.  Unfortunately, it would appear that the de facto PKR leader has lost his influence with PAS and DAP as a result of his lack of leadership initiative and especially after the“September 16″ (2008) fiasco.
Another cynical view is that the adversaries of Khalid Ibrahim want to lay their hands on the RM3 billion in state reserves for their own political purposes. Otherwise, why are they washing their dirty linen in public? How often do we hear leaders of these same political parties admonishing their members for openly criticising their parties and for not solving these problems internally?
I dread to think of the fallout when the inevitable happens after all the open criticism of Khalid Ibrahim by Anwar Ibrahim and the other PR leaders. This is a spectacle we don’t usually behold even among the BN parties. Is Khalid Ibrahim going to stay the perfect gentleman he has been through all the flak so far, or will he let rip, like all the other former partners of DSAI when his inevitable exit happens? Only time will tell…and that won’t be a pretty story for sure.
To be taken seriously, the PKR and PR leaders need to show us by what criteria they are judging Khalid and what specific credentials are required of a Pakatan Rakyat Menteri Besar, i.e.
In what specific way will the replacement MB be qualified as against Khalid Ibrahim’s credentials?
Will the new MB display his or her alternative policies for the state for us all to judge?
What reforms will be set up by the state government to ensure collective and democratic leadership and to spare us further MB bashing?

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