KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 27 ― Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has accused Pakatan Rakyat (PR) of openly practising nepotism in Selangor, pointing to the push to make Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s wife the next mentri besar of the country’s richest state.
The Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman also said the federal ruling coalition would have been immediately labelled as showing favouritism to family members if it had acted in the same manner.
“What is the benefit of asking a healthy people’s representative to resign so his wife can contest in a by-election. After that, ask his wife to be mentri besar.
“Imagine if a Barisan Nasional leader promotes his wife to be mentri besar, we will surely be accused of practising nepotism. Now open nepotism is happening in Selangor,” he was quoted as saying by Malay daily Utusan Malaysia, from an event in Sepang last night.
In its report today, Chinese-language paper Sin Chew Daily clarified that Najib did not mention any name in his nepotism remarks.
But Najib was likely referring to the “Kajang move” where PKR state assemblyman Lee Chin Cheh abruptly quit early this year, sparking a by-election which critics say a ploy to remove then-PKR member Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim from his Selangor Mentri Besar post.
Anwar was initially set to contest the Kajang seat but pulled out after his conviction for sodomy.
His wife and PKR party president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail then stepped in and won the Kajang state seat ― a crucial condition to be a Selangor Mentri Besar.
In recent weeks, PKR has increased the pressure on Khalid to quit his post, nominating Dr Wan Azizah to replace him and also sacking him from the party.
But the leadership crisis in Selangor has moved into its final stages with Khalid’s resignation yesterday and with the Selangor Sultan asking the PR parties to nominate more than two candidates each.
Last night, PKR and DAP nominated Dr Wan Azizah as their sole Selangor Mentri Besar candidate.
The two PR parties noted in a joint statement late yesterday that the Sultan had similarly asked for more than one name for the MB post last year. PR presented just one name at the time — Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim — which the ruler accepted.
The remaining PR component party PAS has yet to make its nominations. It is not yet known if it too will follow the example set by DAP and PKR or introduce more names into the mix as the long running saga enters its final stages.
PAS, which has been reluctant to put forward Dr Wan Azizah as a sole candidate, may well decide to include her deputy Azmin Ali.
Khalid has been asked to stay on until a replacement is appointed and so far, the developments appear to indicate that snap polls have been avoided.