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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The albatross around Azmin’s neck

The new MB is in a mess because Anwar Ibrahim announced he was giving him instructions.
COMMENT
azmin300Anwar Ibrahim announced recently that he had instructed (he now denies this) the new Selangor Menteri Besar (MB), Azmin Ali, to investigate previous MB Khalid Ibrahim’s wrongdoings and transgressions. Khalid welcomes this investigation and basically told Anwar and Azmin to bring it on.
Khalid, in fact, has already lodged a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) regarding allegations of corruption against him. So it is now in the hands of the MACC and for it to pursue a case against Khalid if there is evidence to make a case.
This poses two problems for Azmin and, to a certain extent, for Anwar as well.
First of all, Azmin had announced that he was not going to be a remote control MB. And now, hardly a week after he took office, Anwar is telling him what to do.
But then what is Anwar’s locus standi in the Selangor state government? Even in PKR he is merely the de facto leader while the elected party president is his wife.
Is this Anwar’s way of putting Azmin in his place for announcing that he is not going to be a remote control or puppet MB? Even if Anwar is instructing Azmin, there’s no need for him to announce it and show the world that he owns Azmin.
Secondly, Anwar said he had all the evidence against Khalid. This is reminiscent of the six boxes of evidence against Mahathir Mohamad that he and his supporters claimed they had back in 1998. The boxes never saw the light of day.
If Anwar does have evidence against Khalid, shouldn’t he send it to the MACC?
What if the MACC cannot find any evidence against Khalid? Will Anwar accuse the MACC of going soft on Khalid when he is the one withholding all the evidence that can be used to nail Khalid?
And if this evidence is really in Anwar’s hands, why did he not reveal it earlier to support his argument that Khalid was corrupt and had to go? As it is, Khalid’s removal was based on allegations not supported by any evidence.
Azmin’s problem is that if he acts on Anwar’s instructions – that is to investigate Khalid – he will be seen as Anwar’s errand boy. And if he finds nothing, this whole thing will blow back on both their faces.
If Azmin does nothing it would appear like there is no evidence against Khalid or that Azmin is ignoring Anwar. If he acts, he has to make sure that it succeeds or else it would appear like Khalid is innocent after all.
Water agreement
Now, say Azmin rescinds the water agreement to show that Khalid was wrong in signing it. Would that not be a violation of the agreement? The agreement was signed between the Federal government and the Selangor government. So it does not matter who the MB is.
There must be strong legal grounds to rescind any agreement. You cannot cancel an agreement just because the MB has changed. Can Malaysia cancel its water agreement with Singapore just because the agreement was signed by the previous PM?
If they say that the water agreement that Khalid signed is defective then they have to explain in what way it is defective. Are they saying the price is too high? Or is too low? Is Selangor losing out and, if so, in what way?
Azmin is in a very dicey situation. He has to be very careful how he proceeds from here on. If he does nothing, he is in trouble since they have already said something is wrong. And if he acts, how is he going to act?
If Azmin reduces the price in the water agreement then it is going to be chaotic because, based on the common formula that applies to all, one particular concessionaire would end up getting nothing rather than the RM250 million it is supposed to receive, which in the first place it is so unhappy about.
However, if Azmin increases the price for this particular concessionaire and gives it the RM2.5 billion it is asking for, then all the others would get a tenfold increase as well, which means the government would have to pay ten times the agreed RM7 billion or so.
How can you justify RM70 billion? And where is the money going to come from?
Can you imagine increasing the price for this one concessionaire and not doing the same for the others? This would mean what Khalid alleged is true after all.
Azmin would be better off not touching the water agreement because it is going to backfire if he makes the wrong decision. But then if he does nothing, he will prove Khalid right.
What a mess Azmin has got himself into just because Anwar opened his mouth to announce what he instructed Azmin to do.

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