by Ong Kian Ming
17 Aug 2014
The fluid political situation in Selangor, being the way it is, may make this column obsolete by the time it is published on the internet. As events unravel, what cannot be denied is the fact that Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim (TSKI) has created numerous political precedents in his desperate and increasing futile attempt to remain as the Mentri Besar of Selangor.
In many ways, TSKI has succeeded in accomplishing what Barisan Nasional failed to do. At the end of the day, when this crisis is over and a new MB is installed, I hope TSKI can ask himself this simple question – “Was it really worth it?”
Was it really worth almost breaking up Pakatan Rakyat? Was it really worth forcing the PAS excos stand by while you sacked their colleagues from PKR and DAP? Was it really worth it to mislead the Sultan when you clearly knew you did not command the confidence of a majority of the Selangor state assembly representatives? Was it really worth it to say that the government you led was never really a Pakatan government since it is not a registered entity? Was it really worth it to turn Pakatan colleagues against one another and to push things to breaking point within PAS? Was it really worth it to create divisions within NGOs and civil society that were previously united in fighting for human rights, media freedom and free and fair elections?
Of course, some would argue that this crisis is not the sole responsibility of TSKI and that strong enough reasons have not been presented to warrant his removal as MB. Having read through the legal documents, I am of the opinion that the coincidental out of court settlement between TSKI and Bank Islam in February 2014 and the rush to sign the MoU with the federal government on the water restructuring is cause enough for questioning TSKI’s loyalties, especially give his failure to give a proper account, either his own party (then) or to the public, more generally. One cannot just dismiss the ‘settling’ of a RM70 million debt as a ‘personal matter’ especially if one is a public figure running the richest state in the country.
More than this, TSKI is guilty of breaching the norms and conditions of a parliamentary democracy whereby the Prime Minister or in this case, the Menteri Besar, is put in his or her leadership position by the party and not because of a personal mandate. We do not have direct elections for the position of the PM or MB which is why he must step down if he loses the confidence of his party.
Pak Lah had to make way for Najib as PM because of an internal Umno decision to do so. Ahmad Said, the former MB of Terengganu, was replaced in May this year because of a party directive for him to do so. After earlier threats to quit UMNO, he finally relented and stepped down voluntarily. Hence, for TSKI to try to remain as MB even after being sacked as a PKR member and clearly being exposed as not having the confidence of a majority of ADUNs is a serious breach of this principle.
This is the first time in Malaysian history when an independent ADUN is making a claim to stay on as the MB with only the explicit support of 12 out of 56 state assembly reps! Another feather in TSKI’s cap, I suppose.
This sordid episode has undoubtedly harmed Pakatan’s political standing in the larger public, especially among the majority of voters in Selangor who put their trust in us. It will take us a while to recover from this and the relationship between the Pakatan leaders would probably not be the same moving forward, even if the coalition is preserved after that.
While Pakatan cannot absolve itself from blame completely, it is increasingly clear that TSKI has to shoulder the responsibility of not being transparent with his Bank Islam settlement, not consulting his party or Pakatan about the water deal, not wanting to attend his own disciplinary hearing, of seeing himself as above or bigger than his own party and even Pakatan, not respecting the norms of parliamentary democracy, not respecting the coalition which nominated him as the MB in the first place, misleading the Sultan of Selangor and for holding on to power when it is clear that he has lost the confidence of a majority of the state assembly.
Well done TKSI! Was it really worth it?