With Azmin as MB, the failure of PKR’s Kajang Move, say analysts

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(September 23): PKR's "Kajang Move" has failed, say analysts, pointing out the complicated political manoeuvre was to remove Selangor Menteri Besar (MB) Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim and ensure his political foe Azmin Ali denied the top post in the country's wealthiest state.

But that did not happen.

Instead, the party number two and Bukit Antarabangsa assemblyman will be sworn in as the 15th Selangor MB today, a blow to party de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who was gunning for the post but dropped out due to a court case.

Instead, Anwar put his wife, PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail up for the job, only to be met with opposition from the palace and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) partner, PAS.

Analysts said the strategy has failed to earn the multi-racial party goodwill from Selangor voters who are fed up with the MB issue, which dragged on for eight months.

"The Kajang Move has obviously not worked. The first target was to make Anwar the candidate but that had failed," said Wan Saiful Wan Jan (pic, right).

Anwar was to contest the Kajang state by-election, but opted out after he faced jail when the Court of Appeal found him guilty of sodomising his former aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

"Then they wanted Dr Wan Azizah but that too has failed," added Wan Saiful, who heads think tank Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas).

Wan Saiful said PKR's hopes that the strategy would boost support for the party and the PR pact, also "failed miserably".

"Instead the level of support has dwindled significantly. Whoever planned the Kajang Move did not think this through and someone needs to take responsibility for this mess," he said.

Although Wan Saiful believed Azmin will be a better MB than Khalid who was more a corporate man than a politician, he said it was not right for Azmin to accept the post based on democratic principles.

"I've always believed she is not the best candidate for MB and that is mainly because it will create criticisms and distrust whenever she makes decisions... she will not be seen as a proper MB but as a puppet and regardless whether it's true or not, that's the perception.

"Personally, Azmin might be a better candidate for the post but I do feel it's wrong as a matter of principle in democratic practices," he said, adding that Dr Wan Azizah had support from 29 assemblymen, giving her the majority needed to be appointed as MB.

Dr Oh Ei Su, of Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, gave the Kajang Move a paltry success rate of 33%, saying it only succeeded in removing Khalid, and that too after a long impasse.

Oh said Azmin's vast political experience was needed in handling the intricate politics of administering Malaysia's most prosperous state.

"In the short term, there will be an outcry from within PKR but I think it will soon subside as he will move quickly to placate disgruntled party men or through other means of largesse," he added.

Political analyst, Dr Arnold Puyok (pic, left), said the Kajang Move had taken a toll on both PR and the Selangor people.

"More and more people now regard that it was conceived not to address the Selangor domestic problems but purely to consolidate the power of certain factions in Pakatan. The Kajang Move and the MB crisis were bad for the opposition.

"The only way to resolve this is to go back to the people," said the head of International Relations and Politics department in Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, agreeing to call for fresh polls.

Independent analyst Khoo Kay Peng, on the other hand, said the architect of the Kajang Move, PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli, would still insist the strategy's success in removing Khalid.

Khoo believes Azmin will rise to become a powerful leader because as MB, he would have access to the state's vast resources, including its burgeoning funds.

"He is a political animal and he knows how to build his base and he will pose a threat to the anti-Azmin factions.

"But if he is smart enough, he will use his influence to win over his detractors and if it is successful, it can see him possibly become a top leader to lead PKR," he said, adding that Azmin will however not take on his mentor Anwar for fear of a political backlash.