Malaysia GE: Selangor chief minister and predecessor Azmin Ali may vie for same seat

International Trade and Industry Minister Azmin Ali (left) is likely to contest against Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari. PHOTO: BERNAMA

KUALA SELANGOR - A major battle between two former political friends is shaping up in a Selangor parliamentary seat, involving the state’s chief minister and Malaysia’s incumbent international trade minister.

The Gombak ward has been held by International Trade and Industry Minister Azmin Ali, 58, for the last three terms. But he is likely to contest against Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari, 42, in the Nov 19 polls, in a battle that neither man could afford to lose.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who is also president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), hinted on Wednesday that he is likely to send Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari to contest in Gombak.

“That is the duty of Amir, who wants to take care of Gombak,” Datuk Seri Anwar was quoted as saying in Bernama. “We will send Selangor main’s commander to Gombak,” he said, adding that the official announcement will be made on Oct 28.

Mr Azmin won the Gombak seat in 2008 as a PKR candidate. He became Mr Anwar’s deputy in PKR and rose to the post of Selangor Menteri Besar in 2014, before making way for Mr Amirudin when he was appointed the Economic Affairs Minister following opposition alliance Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) victory in the 2018 general election.

Mr Azmin was seen as a key actor during the 2020 Sheraton Move, when he led a faction of PKR leaders to form a new coalition government with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS). This led to the collapse of the PH government under then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Mr Amirudin stayed with PKR during the episode, while Mr Azmin went on to helm the International Trade and Industry Ministry in former premier Muhyiddin Yassin’s government. He managed to retain his post when Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob took over as PM.

The bitter rivals have been trading barbs since last week, after Mr Azmin claimed that Selangor has been faring worse since he vacated the Menteri Besar post in 2018.

“After I left, I can see a decline in performance,” he was quoted as saying in Malaysiakini.

Mr Amirudin swiftly fought back, saying: “Sometimes those who jump ship are too self-absorbed.”

PKR information chief Halimey Abu Bakar also rebutted Mr Azmin’s charges, saying Selangor’s reserves have increased by RM600 million (S$180 million) under Mr Amirudin’s watch, despite the state’s heavy spending on welfare programmes and Covid-19 relief efforts in the past few years.

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