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Shannon Teoh
Sunday, Aug 10, 2014

Malaysia

PAS council backs Selangor Menteri Besar

The Straits Times | Shannon Teoh | Sunday, Aug 10, 2014

Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.

Embattled Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim has dared anti-corruption enforcers to investigate him after his own party, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), accused him of abuse of power.

But Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), a member of the PKR-led Pakatan Rakyat (PR) opposition alliance, insists there is insufficient cause to oust Tan Sri Khalid.

Its Syura Council, which is made up of influential religious scholars, yesterday supported PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, who has refused to bow to PKR's plan to replace Mr Khalid with its president, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the wife of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim

"As long as there is no proven breach of trust... the Syura Council backs Tan Sri Khalid. If any allegation is proven by those in authority, such as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) or the courts, then we are ready to review our position," it said in a statement.

The tough stance underlined the Islamic party's determination to challenge Mr Anwar's weakening grip on the tripartite alliance. The third member is Chinese-based Democratic Action Party (DAP).

In a bold bid to show that Mr Khalid is clean, his aides took PKR's dossier detailing his alleged dirty deeds to the MACC on Wednesday. One of the allegations was that he had used state land to clear a personal debt of RM70 million (S$27.3 million).

Mr Khalid, who is a PKR leader, has been ordered to appear before a party disciplinary panel by tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, PAS' top decision-making body has pushed a meeting to discuss its position on Mr Khalid, scheduled for Aug 10, to next Wednesday. A section of PAS wants him to go but anything short of an agreement would have a disastrous impact on the shaky Pakatan alliance.

"PR is faced with the worst crisis since its formation," DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang said in a statement yesterday.

Although PAS sources told The Straits Times that Mr Hadi Awang is not prepared "to be remembered as the man who broke up PR", his decades- old rivalry with Mr Anwar - both rose to prominence as Islamist figures - is likely why he refused to endorse Dr Wan Azizah.

Despite his pledge to defeat the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN), Mr Anwar failed to do so in last year's general election and public protests against alleged electoral fraud soon fizzled out.

A sodomy conviction, now pending an appeal, snuffed out his chance of becoming Selangor Menteri Besar in March and PKR's internal party election has been suspended since April after allegations of rigging.

"Essentially, Hadi is against Anwar. We may have to break up, otherwise, we can't continue," said a senior Pakatan strategist. PAS research chief Dzulkefly Ahmad, who favours Mr Khalid's removal, told The Straits Times that as PAS president, Mr Hadi Awang bears the brunt of BN's attacks that "we are DAP yes-men". So he "took his chance", which Mr Dzulkefly considers to be an "ill-advised" move.

PAS MP Hanipa Maidin shared the same sentiment when he told a public forum on Tuesday: "For me, there is no problem if the Menteri Besar comes from DAP. But that will anger many in PAS."

However, Pakatan sources told The Straits Times that Mr Hadi Awang would be willing to withdraw his support "for the good of Pakatan" but would insist on someone other than Dr Wan Azizah.

Reports that PKR's Mr Idris Ahmad is a compromise candidate have been dismissed by his party, while two PKR Selangor leaders said yesterday that they and eight others backed their state chief Azmin Ali to replace Mr Khalid.


This article was first published on August 8, 2014.
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