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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Khalid should care less and mind more


The latest upsurge in speculation about the position of Khalid Ibrahim as Selangor's Menteri Besar is owed more to the mischief of Umno mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia than to rumblings in his own party about his conduct of his office.

NONEKhalid's handling has been the subject of criticism for some time from within PKR, and not just from his putative rival for the post, Azmin Ali, the deputy president of the party.

Although Azmin covets the post, he is not now pressing to replace Khalid but muckraking Utusan, always looking for a chance to foment discord in opposition parties, is keen to fan the embers of dissidence in PKR.

In this instance, the paper's stoking is not likely to cause anything more than a tempest in a teacup.

PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim has already gone on record as saying that Khalid will continue as MB and Azmin has disavowed any intention to upset the applecart.

Both DAP and PAS, PKR's coalition allies in the Selangor state government, have not expressed the sort of dissatisfaction with Khalid that savours of intention to unseat him.

But it would be safe to say that intra-coalition critics of Khalid would like him to be less corporate and more political in his approach to his job.

In sum, the brickbats Khalid has drawn were over his alleged micromanagement of the post which sees him behaving more like a corporate manager, which he has been for most of his career, and not like a political boss, which is what an MB must be.

Can he be a good politician?

Khalid has accumulated reserves of RM3 billion on his five-year watch, which is a signal achievement given the debt-laden state that most of the rest of this BN-ruled country is in.

He is a superb manager but what he now has to be, in response to the prodding of in-house critics, is good politician.

khalid ibrahim in hulu selangor by election 030410 02With the reserves Khalid has accumulated, which would be the envy of any BN state chief minister, he has to attend to niggling problems that beset Selangor - potholed roads, flash flood-prone areas, dilapidated facilities for small traders, small loans for them, and aid for the indigent and the handicapped.

Khalid cannot possibly provide for all, but if he uses the considerable reserves he has accumulated to make a dent in the aforementioned sectors, he would finish his second-term as MB to acclaim by denizens of the state and current detractors of his style.

There have been roundtable discussions on how to alleviate poverty in Selangor among the informal remove-poverty caucus composed of backbenchers in the state assembly.

Some of the proposals that have welled up at these discussions, such as building 1,000 stalls throughout the state for petty traders, are highly feasible.

Observers of Khalid's style say the problem with him is that he likes to micromanage, a trait that leaves him with little time to respond to appeals for help.

Failed to deliver

PKR candidate for the federal seat of Sabak Bernam, Abdul Aziz Bari, the constitutional law expert who would have made a stellar presence in the party's parliamentary ranks, appealed to Khalid to help to patch up potholed roads in the constituency and alleviate the flash-flood problem in some low-lying areas of the ward in the run-up to last May's general election.

Khalid signalled that help was coming but in the end it did not chiefly because the MB had no time to come around to doing the deed because of his busyness with the nitty-gritty of administration.

NONEIn the event, Aziz Bari lost by a margin (1,644 votes) that raises speculation of what the result would have been had Khalid afforded him the aid he had intended to offer but, from want of time, failed to deliver.
In other words, Khalid can deliver if he dispenses with the minutiae of administration.

He has around him at least three persons, one of whom is political secretary Faekah Husin, who guard the approach to the MB with a zealousness that makes the passage an obstacle course.

This has caused frustration and engendered discontent within PKR with his style of administration.

This is such a pity because he has run the state with administrative panache that has resulted in financial reserves aplenty and a popular re-endorsement for the Pakatan Rakyat coalition over a determined campaign by BN to recover the state.

The fact both DAP and PAS have more seats in the state assembly than PKR and despite that evince no apparent interest in asking for the MB's position redounds to the MB's credit.

All that now remains for the MB to do is to expend those sizeable reserves on smoother roads, better amenities for petty traders, on flash flood mitigation, better drainage, and increased welfare for the needy.

TERENCE NETTO has been a journalist for four decades. He likes the occupation because it puts him in contact with the eminent without being under the necessity to admire them.

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