KUALA LUMPUR, July 29 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is trying to avoid snap polls in Selangor as a way to end the tussle for the mentri besar’s post, sources said, as early elections may worsen the cracks in the three-party coalition that rules the state.
Malay Mail Online understands that some PR officials are hesitant to convene a special state assembly sitting to trigger a motion of no-confidence against mentri besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, believing it would pit PKR and DAP against PAS, which in turn may receive support from rivals Umno.
“If a motion of no-confidence is called against MB Khalid, there is a strong possibility that the vote will be split right down the middle,” said Khalid Samad, a Selangor PAS federal lawmaker.
Assuming that Khalid Ibrahim votes against any no-confidence motion, DAP and PKR together have 28 votes in the state assembly, exactly one half of the 56-seat House.
If Umno’s 12 lawmakers and all 15 PAS reps back Khalid Ibrahim who also backs himself, there could be 28 votes against the no-confidence motion, leaving the state assembly in deadlock.
“This in turn would be good grounds for immediate state polls,” Khalid Samad told Malay Mail Online.
Over the weekend, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng warned of a possible break-up in the PR coalition if PAS continues to resist moves to unseat Khalid Ibrahim.
The Penang lawmaker said a break-up would splinter the opposition and dent PR’s credibility.
Acknowledging the bleak outcome, Khalid Samad said snap polls should be PR’s last resort.
“If this (snap polls) does happen, it would mean that we (PAS) have given up on prioritising our relationship with Pakatan.
“If this happens, it would mean that PAS breaks away from PR,” Khalid Samad added, saying that his party needs to make a choice and evaluate the importance of maintaining good ties with PKR and DAP.
“The issue boils down to a choice between Pakatan or Tan Sri Khalid. If PAS still backs Khalid, PAS risks its relationship with PKR, DAP who want Khalid out,” the PAS leader said.
Asked if he was surprised with PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s support for Khalid Ibrahim, he said: “I was surprised that he decided to make his views public.”
Last Friday, Hadi publicly expressed his support for Khalid Ibrahim to remain as Selangor mentri besar despite allies PKR and the DAP’s open declaration that they want him replaced.
“I have heard all the arguments, and I find that the majority of PAS grassroots are in agreement that Khalid Ibrahim should remain as mentri besar,” Hadi was quoted as saying in Terengganu.
PKR and DAP sources told Malay Mail Online that both parties were shocked by Hadi’s announcement as it went against what was agreed upon by PAS during PR’s presidential council meeting last Wednesday.
“You have to differentiate Hadi’s position and the position of other PAS leaders. Hadi supports Khalid, for reasons known to him, but other PAS leaders have agreed as part of a PR consensus that Khalid has to be removed,” one Selangor DAP leader said on condition of anonymity.
Ibrahim Suffian, the director of pollsters Merdeka Center, said that calling for a state election would almost certainly result in a permanent rift between PAS and its PR allies, but added that Hadi’s open defiance is “not completely new”.
Ibrahim pointed out that as an ally, PAS has not always been “completely loyal” to PR, and that under Hadi’s leadership, the Islamist party had repeatedly entertained unity talks with rivals Umno for the sake of “Malay unity.”
“The question now is how far will PAS party leaders go along with Hadi’s stand? And if PAS wants to remain and preserve ties with Pakatan, should Hadi himself be given the mandate to continue to lead? Is he leading PAS in the right direction?” the political analyst told Malay Mail Online.
Khalid Ibrahim survived his own party’s abortive “Kajang Move” to oust him from the position last March, but fresh controversies in the state have renewed the push to have him replaced.
Among others, these include the still-unresolved row over the seizure of bibles in the state and Khalid’s perceived bias in favour of the developers of the proposed Kinrara-Damansara Expressway (Kidex), a project facing mounting opposition from residents.
A major barrier to Khalid’s removal was the absence of a clear candidate to replace him, but clearing that hurdle, PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail has been nominated as his successor.