From various accounts, it was Selangor Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim’s perceived lack of consultation that resulted in faltering support from his Pakatan colleagues, especially those from within PKR.
It is a salutary lesson for all. In a democratic system, real consultation and participatory decision making is necessary. If you are a visionary leader, there must be space for friends and foes to critique that vision – and buy into it – if it is to be successfully realised.
One Pakatan elected rep in Selangor revealed to me that only exco members and YDPs in Selangor were invited for a two-day retreat to chart the vision for the state in the coming years. He said other elected reps could have provided valuable feedback about the sentiment among the grassroots and their aspirations.
It is important to consult and be in touch with the grassroots. For instance, wider consultation with the grassroots would have told Khalid that the decision to award hefty pay hikes for elected reps in Selangor, including a raise of 231 per cent for exco members, was ill-advised especially at a time when the people are hurting from the higher cost of living. People don’t want to see their leaders living the high life – moving around in flashy limousines and receiving hefty pay increases – when the rakyat on the grond are finding life much tougher.
Khalid’s tough stance in protecting the people’s interest during negotiations between the federal government and the state government for control of Selangor’s water assets and in staving off increases in water tariffs for six years won him many admirers. But concerns surfaced over whether any new concession agreement would be lopsided in favour of the corporations after Khalid announced that the state and the federal governments would jointly take over the water assets.
Much has been said about the RM2.8bn in Selangor state reserves (this figure needs to be independently verified) that the Khalid-administration was said to have accumulated, and no doubt some politicians will be jostling for control over how that is spent.
One of the criticisms was that some of that money should have been spent on easing the plight of the lower-income groups in Selangor and improving amenities. What is the point in the state accumulating so much money in reserves when people need to be helped and empowered?
It is a pity it has come to this for Khalid as the MB has had a real chance to show how a state government should be led in one of the jewels of the federation.
Now Anwar is standing for election in Kajang, considered to be a safe seat for Pakatan. In the 2013 general election, PKR’s Lee Chin Cheh polled 19571 votes over his MCA opponent (12747) to win by an increased 6824 majority (2008 – 3268 votes) with an 88 per cent voter turnout. But Pakatan cannot take for granted that election-weary voters will turn out in numbers for a by-election.
For Anwar, winning the Kajang seat would be the first step in lifting his public profile and ensuring he remains in the public eye in the years approaching the next general election. He may have a better feel for grassroots sentiment in the state than the present MB; it remains to be seen whether his entry will result in the state being more effectively managed (though Khalid has said he remains the MB for “the time being”). Anwar’s entry may also signal his intention to intervene in the state to bridge the uneasy rift between Azmin Ali and Khalid and defuse the situation before it gets out of hand.
What’s your take on what’s happening in Selangor? Is Anwar’s entry a smart move? How will voters react to such an early by-election caused by internal problems?