KUALA LUMPUR - A fractured Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) rallied behind its president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail at its national convention, but her bid to take over as Selangor chief minister is still being snubbed by a key coalition partner and the state palace.
Although Datuk Seri Wan Azizah has so far failed to gain an audience with the Selangor ruler, PKR pushed hard to unite behind her candidacy.
An opening video at the two-day conference portrayed her as “an extraordinary woman who led the fight for justice” after her husband Anwar Ibrahim was sacked as deputy prime minister in 1998.
“I understand and am familiar with the pains of leading, whether as leader of a new party just 15 years old now and as head of a family when Anwar was jailed for six years,” she said in her opening address yesterday.
Her qualities were then lauded by delegates. One from Selangor called for her to be a mother to Malaysia’s richest state.
But sources told The Sunday Times that Selangor’s Sultan – whose consent is required to form the government – is still unwilling to meet her until he is presented with more than one candidate to replace renegade Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim.
Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) is also refusing to sign off on a letter telling the palace that Dr Wan Azizah has the full support of the three-party Pakatan Rakyat (PR) alliance that has controlled Selangor since 2008, as it wants to maintain a good rapport with the state ruler.
“The palace wants two names on the letter,” a source said.
PKR sacked Tan Sri Khalid on Aug 9 after he refused to comply with opposition leader Anwar’s plan to elevate his wife.
But the Sultan has allowed Mr Khalid to remain in his post because PKR and its two allies in PR – PAS and the Democratic Action Party (DAP) – failed to agree on a replacement.
On Aug 17, PAS asked for the names of Dr Wan Azizah and her deputy Azmin Ali, who leads PKR in Selangor, to be presented to the palace after finally withdrawing its support for Mr Khalid.
Mr Azmin declined, saying he had to stick to the party line, but sources told The Sunday Times that the PR leadership compromised on his name being sent up should Dr Wan Azizah be rejected.
Quizzed by reporters yesterday, Mr Azmin refused to dent PAS’ right to name any candidate but insisted that “we leave it to His Majesty” to decide.
Thirty out of the 56 state lawmakers including Mr Azmin have signed statutory declarations endorsing Dr Wan Azizah, but Mr Azmin confirmed yesterday that 13 of the 15 PAS assemblymen have refused to do so.
A PAS leader told The Sunday Times that Mr Khalid will meet the Sultan tomorrow morning at the same time that the party meets to determine its next move.