Cracks begin to appear in opposition alliance

The Malaysian Insider | KUALA LUMPUR, 16-July-2009 — Selangor, the jewel in the crown for Pakatan Rakyat (PR), looks to be losing its lustre for the opposition coalition.

A row has broken out between Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and the DAP — two of the three components of the coalition — stemming from PKR vice-president Azmin Ali’s call last Wednesday for some of his own colleagues to be kicked out of the state assembly. Azmin is opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s right-hand man in the PR alliance.

“Maybe it’s time for the mentri besar to consider an exco reshuffle for the people to be served better,” he said. The exco refers to the state executive council or state Cabinet.

Some observers were not surprised by Azmin’s action as it was well-known that the Bukit Antarabangsa lawmaker was unhappy with the state government line-up.

There was also talk that Azmin was eyeing the mentri besar’s post because he felt that incumbent Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim did not have enough political experience. Khalid was a corporate leader before joining PKR.

At a press conference on Monday, Azmin refused to confirm or deny that he wanted to be the MB, telling reporters: “I have no response to that.”

He has latched on to unhappiness on the ground with the recent appointment of local councillors to push for a reshuffle in the state exco.

Reports said the appointment of several councillors to the Ampang Municipal Council and the Shah Alam City Council had irked many local leaders as they were not consulted over the selection.

In fact, a group of PKR members rallied at one of Anwar’s ceramahs in Selangor, handing a memorandum to Azmin over the issue.

Khalid had already been summoned by top PKR leaders to discuss the unhappiness on the ground with the appointment of local councillors, according to the Star.

Temperatures were raised further on Monday in the state assembly with a shouting match between Azmin and Teresa Kok, an exco councillor.

Azmin took issue with a statement by Kok that his call for a reshuffle was “arrogant”.

Kok, along with fellow DAP state councillor Ronnie Liu, on Monday also slammed PKR lawmaker Wee Choo Keong, who had come out in support of Azmin.

Wee said last Saturday that the call for a reshuffle was timely, adding that he had received complaints too.

Then, in a bombshell disclosure, he said that it was an “open secret” that a state executive councillor had links with the underworld.

Wee, who left the DAP after a falling out with party members, did not name the official.

Liu demanded that Wee name the official but the latter said he would do so only “at an appropriate time”.

“Rumours can hurt and kill,” Liu said, declining further comment on the matter.

The police have begun investigations into the allegations.

Analysts say such public squabbles are unhealthy and are affecting the opposition’s image.

“Too many frictions may indicate that the coalition members lack self-discipline and mutual respect for one another,” said political analyst Khoo Kay Peng.

In fact, most of the controversies and issues in PR were self-inflicted, he said.

“The recent conflicts in Kedah, Penang and Selangor exposed a lack of mutual understanding, a weak coalition partnership and a mutual distrust between the DAP, PKR and PAS,” he wrote in the Malaysiakini news portal.

DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang has called for the PR to set up a disciplinary committee to “restore public confidence in the opposition coalition’s cohesion, coherence, discipline, unity and common sense of purpose”.

Despite the latest controversy, independent pollster Merdeka Center yesterday released a survey showing 65 per cent of respondents were happy with Khalid’s performance.

Another 60 per cent said the PKR-led state government was heading in the right direction.

Top PR leaders will be holding a leadership council meeting tomorrow to iron out their differences. — The Straits