[INTERVIEW] Face to Face with Azmin Ali: Khalid, my brother

“KHALID is like my brother,” said PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, who for many weeks has been seen butting heads with Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.

Azmin said he has nothing personal against Khalid and in fact “appreciates” him.

“I like him, to be honest. When he first stood for the Ijok by-election, when that ADUN passed away. I took him personally to attend the funeral of that particular person. (Datuk S Sivalingam passed away in 2007 due to a heart attack.)

“After that, weeks before the nomination, I treated him like my brother. I took him to one hair saloon in Bangsar to do his haircut, facial treatment, manicure and pedicure.

“I was there with him for three hours, to make sure he looked good, presentable to the voters!

“I never took my wife and stayed there for three hours, but I did that for Khalid! It was not a political gimmick,” said Azmin, adding that allegations that he was eyeing the MB’s post and is bent on taking Khalid down at all costs were not true.

“I am not saying he has forgotten that, that is my appreciation for Khalid – it’s not all about (being) political. We went through the whole thing.

“That doesn’t mean I can’t say something different from what he proposed, if it is on policy issues. The thing that we avoid is character assassination – that one I will not allow.

“I am here as a state chairman of PKR, as a chairman of the Backbenchers Club, I do not want to be a ‘Yes’ man. This is old politics. It is my responsibility to support the state policies if it goes in line with the policies of Pakatan Rakyat,” Azmin said.

Holding strongly to the opinion that policies should ensure that the interests of the rakyat of Selangor must be well protected, Azmin said if it were otherwise, he would have to speak up.

“I spoke on policy matters. Can’t I say something different from what he proposed in the Dewan? I thought that is healthy,” said Azmin, citing criticisms on Khalid on areas of salary hikes for state representatives and the water MoU between Khalid and the federal government.

“How do you expect me to defend, like I said, the salary hike when we know nothing about the quantum, the percentage and details of the Bill? I can’t just go there and say, ‘saya sokong’ (because) I am not that kind of representative.

“When I defend the state, I must defend with clear conscience, my conviction that this is the right thing to do, including the (state’s financial) reserve. I questioned that, you claimed that you have a RM3 billion reserve. When you talk about good governance, it does not stay on that, it must reflect on the ground,” Azmin said.

Azmin said while he would allow a certain leeway for Khalid to make his decisions as the MB, he insists that Khalid should remember that he is beholden to the party for being appointed to the position of MB.

Khalid had also announced his intentions to vie for the post of PKR deputy president for the party elections this month, taking on Azmin.

To that, Azmin said he also has a track record of being loyal to Anwar, but for now he wants to focus on the Kajang by-election, due on March 23.