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Friday, 31 January 2014

Khalid a good statesman but lousy politician, says Rafizi

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 31 — Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim is not a “skilled” enough politician to handle Barisan Nasional’s (BN) political onslaught, PKR’s Rafizi Ramli said last night as he defended his party’s decision to field Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in the coming Kajang by-election.
Speaking at a forum here, the chief engineer of the Kajang move said that while the embattled Khalid is known to be a popular technocrat, he was less stellar in his role as a politician.
“We all know in Pakatan Rakyat (PR), attacks based on racial politics and religion must be countered with political games as well,” the PKR strategic director told a forum discussing the by-election here.
“Although we have high respect for his administrative prowess, we have to also call a spade a spade: Khalid is not a skilled and experienced politician to face Umno’s racial and religious political games.”
According to the Pandan MP, PKR had decided to give Anwar a shot at snapping a seat on the Selangor legislative assembly to send a message to BN that it is serious in defending the state seen as PR’ crown jewel.
In a statement on Wednesday, Rafizi had claimed there are plans in the pipeline by Umno and BN to use racial and religious issues to cripple the PR administration in Selangor, which is now led by Khalid.
Rafizi was backed in the forum last night by political activist Hishamuddin Rais, who claimed that Anwar would be a better choice as a mentri besar, particularly as he would be able to better articulate the pact’s position on issues regarding race and religion.
“If Anwar becomes an MB in this federalism system, then he will enter as MB into the conference of rulers, talking about land, religion,” said Hishamuddin.
“Who else has better authority, better skills, the credibility, and international stature to say that we do not agree with the ‘Allah’ issue and land?”
To emphasise his point, Hishamuddin accused Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and Khalid of squandering their opportunities to air the issues with Malay rulers during their respective tenures.
“It cannot be denied, that (Khalid) is a brilliant economist but he is not the best politician … Now we reverse it, Khalid will be the economic adviser to Selangor, Anwar to be the mentri besar. What do you think of that?” the activist asked the crowd to cheers and applause.
The third panelist in the forum was Socialist Party Malaysia (PSM) secretary-general S. Arutchelvan, who appeared less convinced of Rafizi and PKR’s explanation than Hishamuddin.
Khalid a good statesman but lousy politician, Rafizi says
But Rafizi continued to defend his party, standing firm on the notion that Anwar’s presence in the Selangor assembly would help scuttle any ploy by BN to play dirty.
The PKR strategy director even seemed to hold back tears as he tried to hit back at critics who mocked his apology over what he dubbed “the Kajang Move”.
“We come with utmost humility to say we are sorry to do this, but it is a responsibility that we have to take … It pains me, because it’s my idea and to drag Anwar into this is not an easy thing,” said Rafizi.
In a surprise move on Monday, PKR’s Lee Chin Cheh resigned as Kajang assemblyman resigned without reason to pave way for Anwar to contest the by-election.
Despite the latest developments, the Selangor government and Anwar have continued to deny that Khalid will be removed as MB.
While popular with the general public, Khalid’s penchant for unilateral decision-making in administering the country’s wealthiest state is understood to be a source of dissatisfaction among PR leaders in the state.
PR currently holds 44 of the 56-seat Selangor state assembly, with PAS and DAP having 15 seats each, while PKR has 13 after Lee’s resignation.

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