Politics

The Kajang Move; a bad move

As polling in the Kajang by-election draws to a close, the most pertinent question is whether it was really necessary.

 

Parti Keadilan Rakyat that necessitated the by-election by getting its assemblyman Lee Chin Cheh to resign, insisting that it was a strategic step in containing Barisan Nasional attempts to unsettle the Pakatan Rakyat-led Selangor administration and paving way to capturing Putrajaya.

 

Dubbed the Kajang Move, PKR leaders claimed it was necessary given BN/Umno’s move to create racial and religious tensions with the aim to unsettle and then recapture Selangor.

 

They justify the move as in anticipation of a change in the Umno/BN leadership in which Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak would be removed by “ultras” from the party who would stop at nothing to recapture Selangor.

 

And finally Selangor is to be the launch pad for Pakatan as were Istanbul and Jakarta the launch pads for Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Jokowi (Joko Widodo) respectively.

 

These are the justifications, propagated by PKR especially its strategy director Rafizi Ramli, especially in the beginning when the party was under mounting criticisms for forcing the by-election.

 

With the exception of fanatical and less discerning supporters, nobody actually bought PKR’s justifications.

 

For example, if PKR argued that it was compelled to force the by-election given the rising religious and racial tensions in the state caused by BN/Umno, it was pointed that it was supporters of the opposition that that made provocations leading to the tensions.

 

The Selangor Islamic Religious Department’s raid and seizing of Malay-language bibles for example was a reaction to the provocation of a Catholic priest who called for the use of the word Allah during their weekend mass.

 

Furthermore, if the department had used a provision in the state enactment to conduct the raid and seizure, instead of pursuing the Kajang move, PKR that is leading the State rule should have pushed for amendments or repeal of the provision since it does have the two-thirds majority.

 

If the Kajang Move is intended to face the onslaught of Umno/BN post-Najib, is PKR saying that Najib’s leadership were to continue then it would not initiate the move?

 

This sudden “affection” for Najib is indeed hollow and reminiscent of the “affection” shown for Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when he was about to be pushed out of office.

 

The Opposition decided to rally around him and insisted that he had their support and as such he should have stayed on as the Prime Minister, expecting all and sundry to forget the incessant attacks and manoeuvres to undermine him prior to that.

 

Some of the attacks and manoeuvres were based on unfounded and baseless accusations, reflecting the seriousness of the Opposition of wanting Abdullah out and a similar approach had been adopted in the attacks on Najib.

 

And to turn around and express fear that if Najib was deposed or forced to step down would lead to Selangor being recaptured, the Kajang Move should have been replaced with efforts to minimise unfair and unscrupulous attacks on Najib so that he could continue to run the nation peacefully until he completes his term.

 

Finally the justification of the Kajang Move was a beginning to turn Selangor into the launch pad in the quest for Putrajaya does not contribute much in understanding the logic of forcing the by-election.

 

If Selangor is to be the launch pad, then why the need for the by-election but rather to consolidate all the resources of PKR and its Pakatan partners to turn Selangor into a model state.

 

After all, PKR and Pakatan leaders have been trumpeting their Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim as the model for other state leaders to emulate.

 

The fact that the Kajang Move was originally slated for its de facto chief Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to be the star, only affirms that all is not well in Selangor.

 

Speculations that Anwar is to be the Mentri Besar after the Kajang by-election and not vehemently dismissed by neither Anwar nor other PKR leaders proved that the Kajang Move is about removing Khalid and making Anwar as the Mentri Besar.

 

By now, it is no more a secret that Khalid is at loggerheads with PKR deputy president Azmin Ali and if the Kajang Move was not initiated, their conflict would have come to full blow without much recourse. Khalid’s actions and reactions since the Kajang Move was initiated definitely point towards a conflict within.

 

The Kajang Move did not resolve the problem but it had “postponed” the inevitable, and at least delayed the possible public spat that promised to turn very ugly.

 

Apart from that, Anwar needed the position to keep him in the limelight and while basking in the attention, lulled the public from being reminded of his promise of retiring as a politician and becoming a lecturer if Pakatan failed to form the Government after the last general election.

 

Now that the equation had changed with his wife Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail taking over after the court’s decision on his sodomy case making him ineligible to contest, the Kajang Move is a by-election that makes no sense.

 

 The Kajang by-election is an all-women affair, a straight fight between Dr Wan Azizah and Barisan Nasional’s Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun. Chew is an MCA vice president. There are 39,278 voters in Kajang of which Malays make up 48%, Chinese 41% and Indians 10%.

 

In the 13th General Election in May last year, BN fielded Lee Ban Seng in a six-cornered fight in Kajang, which saw PKR’s Chin Cheh winning with a majority of 6,824 votes.

 

Unless Dr Wan Azizah, tipped to win the by-election, takes over the Mentri Besar post, then much as the Kajang Move does not serve much purpose in terms of the interest of the public, it at least serves a political interest for PKR.

 

 It may then resolve or at least dilute the growing hostility between Azmin and Khalid.

 

Then again, if Khalid is replaced then obviously PKR is prepared to compromise the importance of a good administration to serve the political ends of some individuals in the party.

 

And Dr Wan Azizah is no Anwar and her presence in Selangor would not make any difference in terms of turning Selangor in the launch pad for Putrajaya.

 

If the argument is that Anwar is going to be behind her in the quest, then the Kajang Move was from the beginning unnecessary as by the same token, Anwar could have been behind Khalid for the quest without having to force the by-election.

 

It can then be concluded that the Kajang Move, in its original form, is indeed to serve three main important objectives – Anwar’s political career, a distraction from the Azmin and Khalid’s spat and to change the Selangor leadership.

 

That’s all there is to it; nothing more and nothing less.

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About the author

Shamsul Akmar