Day: April 13, 2014

[ ARTICLE ] Azmin Ali or Khalid Ibrahim – Concluding Part.

As promised, here is the second article on the contest between Azmin and Khalid. I will write in street style.

True or not? For a person like Khalid Ibrahim to do what he can do as a business savvy person, political power must be won and consolidated. If PR loses Selangor, then Khalid or a person of Khalid’s calibre has no place to apply his skills.

Therefore what is needed more is a political leader. Now that PR has won Selangor, it needs a leader schooled in politics above all. Since PKR’s man is the MB its leader must be a political man.

Many people out there find it objectionable if Azmin were to continue to be deputy president and maybe later as MB. This seems to be the sole reason behind the stop Azmin movement. Azmin must not win- otherwise he will demand to become MB. Of course if Azmin wins, people should expect him to ask to become MB.

So they come out with the disingenuous argument- Wan Azizah is the president and therefore should take precedence as MB.  It seems to me that people already expect Azmin to be the next MB should he defeat Khalid. So the circumventing argument is put forward. If there is a person superseding Azmin in rank, that person should take precedence.

Meaning even if Azmin were to win, he cannot become MB as he is only deputy president.

This argument is put forward only when Azmin is involved. Look- if this man deserves to become MB of Selangor, then he must be supported. He is the head of Selangor PKR already. Not giving his due place in the state administration is already an abuse of reasonableness and propriety. I am surprised than Anwar hasn’t corrected this anomaly. A party that does not observe discipline will crumble.

This argument forgets that even though there is a person outranking Khalid in party hierarchy, people find it not odd to have Khalid as MB and Wan Aizah as ADUN or later exco. This is clearly wrong. The person higher in rank should be the boss. Wan Azizah should become MB after this party election.

If people insist on having pre-election status quo, i.e. letting someone lower in rank to become MB, then no one should find it objectionable to accept Azmin as MB if he wins the deputy president’s post. People should be consistent in their conduct and behaviour. Why is it not odd for someone lower in party rank to be MB but it becomes odd only when that someone lower in rank is Azmin?

This means, the choice for deputy president has nothing to do with the candidate’s credential. It has more to do with personal preference and personal comfort.

So what do people have against Azmin? Reading the comments I got so far, PKR and the pubic have reservations about Azmin.  They insist he has UMNO DNA. This is unfair I think- Azmin has proven his PKR credentials and his loyalty above all. As far as I remember, Azmin did not hold any posts in UMNO nor did he contest for any posts. His link with UMNO was his service with an UMNO leader and that leader happens to be Anwar Ibrahim.

Khalid Ibrahim has more UMNO DNA. He contested for a post in an UMNO branch in Kuala Selangor and lost. He was then appointed to be in the Biro ekonomi UMNO. Saifudin Nasution too was an active UMNO member. If I am not mistaken Saifudin even served as executive secretary for Pemuda UMNO. He has also served as political secretary to Syed Hamid Albar. His links with UMNO is even stronger. His brother, Sahlan Nasution was the political secretary to PM Najib. Sahlan contested in the last general elections and lost. He now serves as PM Najib’s special officer or something.

The second objection is the belief that if Azmin were to become MB, he will practise cronyism and nepotism and will fritter away the cash reserves. This is an unwinnable objection as it is indefensible because the wrongs mentioned have not taken place. We have already prejudged Azmin.

Unless PKR members know that Azmin has a bad record in this aspect or Azmin has shown he has already done these things before, then they are entitled to that judgment. If they don’t, then it is all prejudice.

This is what we need at the moment. A political leader above all. We have regretted the day we put in business centric persons in political positions. We had Dr Mahathir for instance. He is a businessman first and foremost. Read what Rais Yatim had to say about Mahathir before Mahathir took Rais Yatim in of course. Rais Yatim went on to become the greatest bootlicker since our independence.

Mahathir, he said, would spend a great deal of time during his overseas trips closing business deals. We all cheered Mahathir on because we thought he was doing a great service to the nation. Lee Kuan Yew would have approved of this explicit application of entrepreneurship on the political stage. He forgets that Singapore could turn out triumphant because he was there and the quality of people in white on his team was different.

But something must have gone wrong in Malaysia because we didn’t turn out to be the economic miracle thought possible as a result of the application of entrepreneurship on politics. Malaysia has oil but didn’t turn out to become the world’s refinery. We had rubber and other raw materials, but didn’t turn out world number one. We didn’t develop our manufacturing sector to compete with the best.

So, I can’t buy the argument we need to have businessmen at the head of politics for change to do well. Daim was a businessman. He made deals for himself first and the country second. Put any businessman in political positions, he will think of his business.

The mistake by many people is to assume and to then believe that business skills will be put to good application once in political power. History has proven again and again, the skills were indeed put to good application- to entrench private business interests.

The most business-minded person to get into power was Dr Mahathir. He began with all the good intentions and good moves. As he grew more powerful, demolished detractors around him, the feeling of invincibility dulled the idealism which brought him into power. Every decision he made afterwards was underscored with business objectives. So, I am not going to place too high a premium on Khalid’s seemingly good business sense.

He has already begun some questionable moves. What kind of deal did Khalid alone conclude over the water supply in Selangor? Remember – Mahathir did the same thing. It was he alone who decided what was good or otherwise for the country.

We don’t know. This follows after Khalid’s own miraculous resolve of his personal loan with a bank. The bank got a judgement against him and the bank was willing to close the matter by agreeing to a huge haircut.

Most recently, he has entered into a deal selling of over 400 acres of land to Tropicana – already the preferred business partner of Barisan Nasional. The deal may be good as Khalid explained- but was the deal done through open market operations or was the proposal from Tropicana the only one considered and accepted?

We see that hidden forces are working hard to emasculate Khalid Ibrahim, soften him and others up, so that UMNO can stage a coup? Suddenly UMNO is supporting Khalid and MCA is hailing Khalid as the best. Are they afraid of Azmin replacing Khalid? With Azmin in a stronger position, all the behind the scene machinations and intrigues will be shattered? Remember what happened in Perak the last time. Or in a Kedah style indirect coup by allowing a weak leader governed the state?

Without political power over Selangor, Khalid Ibrahim is nothing. I said a person like Khalid- and that reveals what I think about the whole business of making out of business prowess as the trump card for election- is overrated. Khalid Ibrahim isn’t the only person who can achieve what he has achieved. He has been able to do that because PR has the political power. If he doesn’t have political power, what could he have done? Maybe trade privately over the counter and play with his stocks in Guthrie and elsewhere?

I want Azmin Ali to win because I want PKR to have a strong political leader. Before anyone rushes to some ill-judged conclusions, let me state that I know Azmin only a little.  I told a close PKR colleague that I am writing these articles purely based on observations of Azmin in parliament. Allow me to declare, I have no interests in an Azmin victory.

Now, political power is entrenched and secured with the correct political leadership. This is where Azmin’s leadership is needed. If I may say bluntly, PKR is not all about Anwar. If he goes in, and there is every indication that the federal court will uphold the conviction by the appeals court, Wan Azizah will lead PKR. You may argue that Wan Azizah is qualified to lead PKR, but she needs the support of a politically experienced deputy. The deputy will likely run the party on the day to day basis.

I am not buying the argument that only Khalid Ibrahim can run Selangor into what it is now. During the years that Anwar was finance minister, Azmin was also there. He is smart enough to manage a state. As it is, I sense, the only reason why people are against Azmin becoming the deputy president is their personal dislike or disapproval of him. Now, that is personal in nature and should not be used as reason, to not acknowledge him as a good political leader.

I read one comment in my earlier article- which says it is good to have a crook to deal with the UMNO crooks. How do you come to the conclusion that Azmin is a crook? If one comes to that inclusion, then by extension, Anwar is a bigger crook and yet we have no strong objections in accepting Anwar as a leader.