Political turmoil in Selangor

Man in charge: A confident Khalid is all smiles as he gives the thumbs up at his press conference in Shah Alam. -- PHOTO: THE STAR
Man in charge: A confident Khalid is all smiles as he gives the thumbs up at his press conference in Shah Alam. -- PHOTO: THE STAR

The coalition government in Malaysia's richest state is in disarray after Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim refused to step down as demanded by his party Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR). PKR has sacked him, but he remains chief minister after he told the Sultan of Selangor that he still has majority support in the state assembly. The Pakatan Rakyat (PR) alliance - consisting of PKR, Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) - now wants to ask for a vote of no-confidence against Khalid.

What happened?

Top  PKR leaders sacked Khalid on Saturday (Aug 9) after he failed to face a disciplinary panel for his refusal to obey the party's demand that he step down. PKR wanted him to resign to make way for president, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, to take his place as the next chief minister.  

The party had stepped up pressure on Khalid to resign by releasing a dossier on Aug 5 claiming "reasonable doubts" over his integrity, including allegations that he was involved in shady property deals in return for resolution of a personal debt with a bank totalling nearly RM70 million (S$27.3 million). Khalid, who is into his second term as chief minister, had also been blamed for water supply problems in many districts in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya

What did Khalid say?

The defiant chief minister had refused to resign, calling  his dismissal "wrong", "unlawful" and "against the party's Constitution".  He met with Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah on Aug 11 and assured the latter that he still had the confidence of a majority of members in the 56-seat state legislature. He told reporters that the sultan agreed for him to remain in his position. He also said he had the full support of four PAS executive councillors. According to the state laws, a state government can function with a minimum four and maximum 10 executive councillors,

What did coalition partners say?

Both PKR and DAP have stated that their assemblymen would stand united in wanting Khalid ousted,  while PAS appears divided on the issue, with its top clerics saying Khalid should be allowed to continue unless he is formally found guilty of the charges laid out against him. Some PAS leaders appear keen to back Khalid because they do not want Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the wife of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, to take up the post, as proposed by PKR. Anwar is reported to be meeting PAS leaders this week to lobby for support to remove Khalid before PAS decides on its stance on Sunday (Aug 17).

What's the impact on PR coalition?

The  impasse is widely expected to do long-term harm to the coalition's unity and its claim to be a stable, viable alternative to the current Barisan Nasional coalition. Deep cracks have appeared in the three-party coalition  with questions over whether PAS can remain a reliable alliance member. In March and April, PAS was pushing to start implementing controversial Islamic penal code, called hudud, for Kelantan against the wishes of PKR and DAP.