Anwar’s Waterloo

Self proclaimed French Emperor Napolean Bonaparte, in the late afternoon of 18 June 1815 in a farming village of Waterloo, conceding that he lost to Duke of Wellington

Parti KeAdilan Rakyat, which evolved from the created movement to champion Anwar Ibrahim’s personal problem, has gone into serious disarray and conundrum. The progressively chronic struggle for premiership in Selangor State Government led into the abrupt resignation of ADUN Kajang, which paved the way for Opposition Leader Anwar “Mat King Leather” to make his debut formally in Selangor politics and State Assembly.

That raised the question of the direction, planning and agreement between the leaders and struggle of the ‘component members’ of yet to be formalised Opposition parties coalition.

The New Mandala story:

The dark and treacherous road to Putrajaya



Since when did Malaysians ever vote for the Prime Minister?

The nature of the parliamentary system is such that the electorate chooses which political party (or coalition) that can best govern the country. They in turn choose who amongst their leaders to head up the executive branch i.e. to become the Prime Minister. There is no ‘direct election’ for Prime Ministership, unlike in a Presidential system. Thus, it is entirely puzzling at the examples proffered by supporters of Anwar Ibrahim’s latest move to contest in the soon-to-be-held Kajang state seat by-election. The comparison to Jacques Chirac, Lee Myung-Bak, Reccep Erdogan, Joko Widodo, among others, is totally inapt and simply strains credulity.

It is established then that the political party is the lead actor in a parliamentary system, not the individual politician. So what is the point of having Anwar Ibrahim to take over the Chief Ministership of Selangor from Khalid Ibrahim (as much as Anwar is playing it down for now)? The electorate votes for the party, not the personality that embodies it.  Anwar Ibrahim is not the be-all and end-all of the Opposition

If it is about showcasing achievements of an Opposition-led state government to garner the people’s vote of confidence for the ultimate prize, Putrajaya, then replacing the Chief Minister of a well-performing state such as Selangor for no good reason is just folly. It is also not clear what Anwar Ibrahim can do to promote the success of an Opposition-led state especially in the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) strongholds in the rural areas.

Two question remain:

1) How does showcasing the achievements of Selangor, Penang and Kelantan governments translate into possible victory of Pakatan Rakyat (Pakatan: People’s Alliance – the Opposition coalition) in the next general election?

2) Since the successes of the Selangor and Penang governments have been evident since 2008 but somehow did not help Pakatan to win other states in the last general election, what else is new now?

But these two questions are heavily premised on Pakatan’s eventual victory in a highly flawed and biased electoral system. Instead of replacing the Chief Minister and creating unnecessary attention to its own ineptness maybe Pakatan should find better and more effective ways to articulate the achievements of Selangor and Penang to the wider audience against the stifling restrictions on the freedom of press and speech. It does not matter who is at the helm of the Selangor state government if the stories of its success only reverberate among its supporters and fail to make a dent among non-Pakatan voters.

Respecting the electorate

There is also the eight hundred pound gorilla that still sits uneasily in the room: why did Lee Chin Cheh abruptly resign from his state seat? So far no explanation has been offered by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR). If Lee Chin Cheh had resigned with reasons that are less than dire, then it is a dereliction of his duty to serve the people who overwhelmingly voted for him in the last general election. It is a sheer betrayal of Kajang people’s trust of their representative and the political party he is a part of. It is simply impossible to claim a moral high ground when the party is engaging in the same manipulative politics as its nemesis. One is then left to choose between Tweedledee and Tweedledum. In the end the rakyat may just vote for the “evil that we know,” as opposed to the “angel we don’t know,” thus fulfilling Mahathir Mohamad’s crystal-gazing prognostication. Is this the Machiavellian “democracy” that PKR, and by extension Pakatan, envisions for Malaysia? A victory brought on by any means necessary rings hollow if the Rakyat ends up as the collateral damage.

In regards to being an effective wakil rakyat (elected member) is it advisable or even possible to simultaneously service two constituencies that differ greatly in geography, culture, socio-economic background and ethnic makeup? Is it even democratic to begin with? Being elected into office means carrying the heavy burden of rakyat’s hopes, dreams and aspirations and trying to fulfil them to the best of one’s ability. It does not give the wakil rakyat the carte blanche to treat the constituents like some meaningless pawns on the grand political chessboard to be manipulated whenever it is politically expedient.

How will Anwar Ibrahim explain this to both the constituencies of Permatang Pauh and Kajang? Simply setting up service centres in the constituency and only visiting it right before the general election does not make for an effective and trustworthy people’s representative. Plus, the job scope and focus of a member of parliament (MP) and state assemblyperson differ in many ways – one may have to deal with the burgeoning national deficit in Dewan Rakyat and the other may deal with potholes behind Pak Mat’s house in Taman Kajang Bestari. How does Anwar Ibrahim plan to reconcile them?

What wrong has Khalid done?

The whole brouhaha obviously started with the internal party bickering between Khalid Ibrahim and Azmin Ali, which somehow necessitated Anwar Ibrahim’s foray into state politics to purportedly defuse the tension.

In what ways do including Anwar Ibrahim in the state government, either as a state assemblyperson and/or Chief Minister, help quell the infightings within Selangor PKR?

More pointedly, what have Khalid Ibrahim done wrong to the people of Selangor in the past six years for him to be replaced before his term ends?

Rafizi Ramli, PKR’s MP for Pandan, states that with Anwar at the helm nobody will be able to mess with him politically because he is the head honcho but what about using his gravitas instead to prop up Khalid Ibrahim’s creaky position within and without the party and make it unassailable. If Anwar Ibrahim makes it perfectly clear to every PKR cadres, especially the ones in Azmin Ali’s camp, that he is solidly behind Khalid Ibrahim and all are required to put on a united front in support of Khalid Ibrahim, then none of this fiasco would have escalated and festered into what it is now.

Rafizi Ramli’s ‘sincere but rather opaque’ written statement regarding this issue also mentions the need to fortify Selangor against the impending BN onslaught, hell-bent on wresting back the richest state in the federation even if it literally ends up in ashes and embers.

But the reasoning begs the question: what is BN, or particularly Selangor UMNO, doing now or planning to do later that is different than what they had done in the past? Lest we forget, the Selangor UMNO launched the Selamatkan Selangorcampaign right after the 2008 general election to spread misinformation, lies and slanders and concoct many nefarious plans to sabotage the Pakatan state government, including stoking the racial and religious flames. But instead, the Selangor voters returned Pakatan to the state government in the last general election with an even bigger majority. If anything, setting up Anwar Ibrahim at the top of the state government will only serve as a lightning rod for Pakatan’s detractors, as opposed to the more low profile Khalid Ibrahim.

Shadow cabinet

If proof is what Pakatan needs in order to show the public that it can effectively govern on the national level, then one of the better ways is to form a shadow cabinet. This idea has been mooted many times over the years but somehow perplexedly never been taken up by the Pakatan leadership. This will demonstrate that first, the component parties within Pakatan are able to work together and agree on specific policies in response to the official ones issued by the Barisan Nasional government; and second, it exemplifies Pakatan’s readiness to govern and hit the ground running when the time finally comes.

The current uproar concerning the Allah use in Malay-language bibles is a good case in point for the need of a shadow cabinet. If there is a shadow Home Minister or a shadow Minister in-charge of Islamic affairs issuing statements on behalf of the shadow government to counter the cynical ploys of UMNO to politically exploit this issue, the crisis might not have ratcheted up to the level we are seeing now. Instead, we have contradicting and convoluting pronouncements coming out of the Pakatan camp regarding this matter. Maybe Pakatan should tackle this issue first and successfully so, as a way to show the rakyat that it is able to govern and solve problems cohesively as a coalition. This would be a remarkable accomplishment as it is comprised of partners of equal standing; unlike BN, that is overwhelmingly dominated by UMNO, hence the focus on UMNO-centric policies.

Anwar’s Waterloo

Rafizi Ramli is right. The Kajang by-election will be the game-changer but not in the manner that he thinks. It is indeed another dark chapter in Malaysian democracy, and more importantly a treacherous path in the country’s transition to a genuine two-party system. One commentator in Malaysiakini wrote that this will be Anwar Ibrahim’s Waterloo. Maybe that is what is needed to facilitate more people-centric democratic practices and allow the generation of young leaders to be unencumbered by old political culture; and for them to blossom in Malaysia.

In the meantime, it is going to be a long dark journey to Putrajaya for Pakatan with democracy taking a back seat.

Azmil Tayeb is a PhD candidate at the Department of Political and Social Change, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University. 


The resignation of Lee Chin Cheh as ADUN of Kajang and ultra quick announcement of Anwar to contest spells the exit of Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim as the Menteri Besar of Selangor, without a clear and valid reason. Probably the recent announcement of pay rise of MB, Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Excos did not come as favourable amongst Opposition leaders.

The fact is that Khalid did not offer nor suggests that he was willing to resign, at any point of time.

This is all about the power struggle of proxies of Anwar and his wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is PKR President. The matter was already chronic when the internal squabble started to gain attention and now has worsened.

The last time a MB of Selangor resigned was then Dato’ Seri Dr Abu Hassan Omar in August 2000, for ‘very personal reasons’.

Despite the top leaders of DAP and PAS throwing their support for Anwar Ibrahim’s latest political circus stunt, the middle-range leaders are not shy to voice their displeasure in what many dubbed to be making a mockery out of the demoractic system and process to serve internal political cat-fights.

Riong Kali dot com:

PAS, DAP lawmakers split on PKR candidate for Kajang by-election

JANUARY 28, 2014

Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim is serving his second term as menteri besar. – The Malaysian Insider pic, January 28, 2014.Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim is serving his second term as menteri besar. – The Malaysian Insider pic, January 28, 2014.

Kajang assemblyman Lee Chin Cheh’s shock resignation is further fuelling the roiling political situation in Selangor as both DAP and PAS lawmakers disagree over the selection method for his replacement, who could be the next Selangor menteri besar.

PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is due to clear the air today over the latest episode in Selangor PKR, which has been beset with a war between state chief Azmin Ali and two-term menteri besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim.

Lee’s resignation has led to PAS demanding PKR discuss with Pakatan Rakyat (PR) allies before deciding on the candidate while the DAP has maintained that PKR can name anyone. Both parties hold 15 seats each while PKR has 13 now after Lee quit the 56-seat state assembly yesterday.

PAS Hulu Klang assemblyman Saari Sungib insisted the choice of the candidate will affect the Selangor government and as such, PKR cannot isolate PAS and DAP when choosing the candidate.

“Especially if this candidate is later slated to be the next menteri besar,” he told The Malaysian Insider, referring to speculation that Khalid will step down soon after the by-election.

The popular Khalid is serving his second term as menteri besar after the former corporate captain first stood in Election 2008.

Saari respected Lee’s decision to resign as assemblyman although he was elected only eight months ago, saying he only came to know of Lee’s resignation from the Selangor backbenchers club Whatsapp chat group.

State legislative assembly Speaker Hannah Yeo confirmed Lee’s resignation at a news conference in Shah Alam yesterday evening.

Klang MP Charles Santiago said it was up to PKR to decide its candidate.

“It is PKR’s prerogative to nominate who it wants to send to the legislative assembly and this includes  Anwar,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

Santiago said PKR could select its candidate first and later inform DAP and PAS.

The power struggle between Khalid and Azmin is said to be the main reason Lee had to vacate his seat – to pave the way for Anwar or possibly other leaders to contest and replace Khalid as menteri besar.

The friction between the two leaders heightened when Azmin , who is also PKR deputy president, was dropped from state developer PKNS’s board of directors.

Azmin, who is Bukit Antarabangsa assemblyman in Selangor, went head-on with Khalid on various issues, including the salary hike for executive councillors and assemblymen.

DAP Sekinchan representive Ng Sue Lim , however, refused to be drawn into the discussion on Lee’s abrupt resignation which he said was “news to me”.

“I respect his stand but any decision has to come from the DAP headquaraters,” said the three-term assemblyman.

PKR Kuala Langat MP Abdullah Sani Abdul Hamid said Lee had made a great sacrifice to help overcome the impasse between both PKR leaders and for the future of PR in Selangor.

“He personally informed me that he was quiting as assemblyman two weeks ago, saying that this was for the party,” Abdullah Sani said.

Abdullah Sani also stressed that Lee was not forced to resign but did it on his own free-will. – January 28, 2014.


The game many see is Anwar Ibrahim trying to ascend as the Menteri Besar of Selangor if he wins, giving the ‘politically correct’ motive and justification within PKR and presumably with the support of DAP and PKR, to oust Khalid.

If this game turns out to be true, then there would be other complications arising from this latest Anwar’s sordid political gambit.

In the first place, would HRH Sultan of Selangor Tuanku Sharafuddin Idris Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah accept Anwar, who is a non Selangorian as the Menteri Besar.

Former Court of Appeal Judge Dato’ Mohd. Noor Abdulah strongly opined that HRH Sultan Selangor has the absolute power to appoint a Menteri Besar.

The Malay Mail story, based on Bernama report:

Sultan has last word on MB pick, ex-judge insists

FEBRUARY 1, 2014

The Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah. — Picture by Saw Siow FengThe Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 1 — The nomination of Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to contest in the by-election for the Kajang state constituency has become a hot topic throughout the country.

The decision has created numerous perceptions to the extent that many are wondering whether Anwar is suitable as a candidate to take over as Selangor Menteri Besar.

A former judge of the Court of Appeals, Datuk Mohd Noor Abdullah explained that the Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah has absolute power in deciding the appointment of an individual to be the state’s Menteri Besar. He said the power is provided for in the Selangor State Constitution 1959 based on Article 51.

“The Sultan of Selangor has absolute power on two matters and can make a decision without any advice, that is, in the selection of the Menteri Besar and secondly, in the dissolution of the State Legislative Assembly

“In making a decision on these two matters, the Sultan does not have to act on the advice of anyone,” he told reporters at Menara Felda here, recently.

Mohd Noor explained that the Sultan is empowered to appoint any State Assemblyman whom he considers to have the confidence of the majority of the State Assembly, and the second condition is that the Menteri Besar appointed must be of the Malay race and a Muslim.

He disclosed this when referring to the Article 51 of the State Constitution based on Article 53 (2)(a); and Article 51 (2) subject to Article 53 (4) in the Selangor State Constitution 1959.

“According to these provisions, the Ruler or Sultan however, could relax the condition according to his discretion to fulfil the first condition,” he said.

In other words, he said, the constitution provides that the power rested on the people in the democratic process where the Sultan is merely a constitutional ruler and has the power to appoint the Menteri Besar based on the law specified.

However, he said, the Sultan could not choose anyone he liked to become the Menteri Besar because this could be interpreted as interfering in the political affairs of the state.

“In the case of Selangor, two parties namely PAS and PKR can nominate the name of an appropriate candidate and if this is rejected, they must nominate another name,” he said.

However, Mohd Noor said the candidate nominated must be from the party that had won the election and in the situation in Selangor, for example, the Sultan of Selangor could determine whether the candidate is a PAS or PKR leader.

He said the Sultan had no power to delay the appointment.

“However, as an example, if representative A garners the majority vote, but representative B is the Sultan’s choice, then the party can decide who becomes the Menteri Besar through the lobbying process between one another. So, when representative B is elected, the representative B will meet the Sultan to seek his consent.

“This means that the party gives in to the wishes of the Sultan. But if the party insists on the decision of the majority to choose representative A, then the Sultan cannot appoint B.

This is because if B is appointed and later receives a vote of no confidence, he will eventually be removed,” he explained.

Under the present situation, Mohd Noor said the Selangor State Assembly had already sat and if Anwar were to win the by-election, a motion could be made in the State Assembly, he would be nominated as the Menteri Besar.

“The current Menteri Besar (Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim) becomes the MB at the pleasure of the Sultan for five years. If he wants to step down before the five-year period, he could present his letter of resignation to the Sultan.

“If he doesn’t want to resign, then a vote of no confidence on the Menteri Besar could be passed and if the motion is passed, he loses. Then, he will have to vacate his post,” he explained.

After appointing the Menteri Besar, the Sultan is also empowered to appoint the State Government Executive Councillors based on the nominations by the Menteri Besar.

Based on the law and Federal Constitution, Mohd Noor said the criteria for a candidate to stand for state election is that he or she must be a Malaysian national, his home address must be in the state he wished to contest in, aged above 21, has a sound mind, not a bankrupt and had never been jailed for more than one year (but he can contest after the expiry of the jail term).

“The home address of the candidate in his identity card must be in the state he is contesting, for example in the vacancy in the Kajang state constituency. Any candidate wishing to contest must have a Selangor address. But the law does not state how long the candidate must reside in Selangor,” he said.

The by-election is to be held following the move by the Kajang State Assemblyman, Lee Chin Cheh, from the PKR, who vacated his seat last Monday.

To a question whether Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim would be allowed to contest the by-election if the government wins the appeal for the sodomy case against him, Mohd Noor said it would not because the Opposition Leader could still appeal in the Federal Court.

“(However), anyone who is eventually convicted by the Federal Court for a serious offence, and the charge is a serious offence, then his political or professional career would end,” he said.

On August 7, 2008 Anwar was charged in the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court for sodomising his personal assistant Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan at the Desa Damansara condominium, Bukit Damansara.

However, on January 9, 2012, the Kuala Lumpur High Court found Anwar not guilty and acquitted and discharged him on grounds that there was no evidence to support the victim’s testimony.

On January 20, 2012, the Attorney-General’s Chambers filed an appeal on the decision of the High Court and the appeal would be heard on February 12 and 13 at the Court of Appeal. — Bernama


Then, how would Anwar serve as the MB of Selangor when he is now the Opposition Leader in the Dewan Rakyat. Would and most importantly could he retain both political post in the same time.

That is if all political component is in agreement that Anwar serves in both position.

The political impasse could be complicated further if PAS were to insist that their representative be appointed MB of Selangor if and when Khalid leaves the post. It is highly  unlikely that a DAP ADUN could fill the post since HRH Sultan of Selangor would not accept.

Probably, HRH Sultan of Selangor would insist that the opportunity of the replacement MB should be given to PAS, since PKR has demonstrated their ability to squabble amongst themselves which saw the Selangor State Government machinery such as PKNS being dragged into internal party politics.

Another missed opportunity again, for the three times failed-Prime-Minister-Wannabe?

In Selangor, PAS is the more stable and disciplined party as compared to PKR.  They are regimented in adhering to the Supreme Council decision.

After all, it was also PKR who wanted to dip their hands into Religious Department’s Baitul Mal from the accumulated zakat (tithe), “For development purposes” which irked HRH Tuanku Sultan.

Regardless, there is a strong possibility of a ‘Constitutional crisis’ in Selangor.

This could be the beginning of Anwar Ibrahim’s and PKR downfall. Wrong judgment based on misguided information, poor political calculation and blinded emotional quotient, was the recipe for the Napolean Bonaparte’s ultimate defeat in the sleepy Belgian farming village south of Brussels on that fateful day in June 1815.

*Updated 1800hrs

Published in: on February 1, 2014 at 13:30  Comments (3)