Selangor Cabinet line-up reflects Anwar's pull

Selangor Cabinet line-up reflects Anwar's pull

Selangor has named a new 10-member state Cabinet that showed embattled opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim still has pull as he battles to maintain control over a shaky Pakatan Rakyat (PR) alliance.

Only one clear loyalist of newly minted Menteri Besar Azmin Ali made it to the state executive council (exco), while Datuk Seri Anwar's Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) gained a seat from Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), which sources say offered little resistance.

Mr Azmin, who is PKR deputy president, told a press conference yesterday the decision to reduce PAS' representation to three while PKR had four exco members was made "after we took into account current developments and views from all parties".

However, in a concession to PAS, Mr Azmin said the party will get the Deputy Speaker post, taking it over from PKR exco member Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad.

A source told The Straits Times that both the palace and third PR ally Democratic Action Party (DAP) had wanted PAS to have only two exco members, while PKR leaders aligned to Mr Anwar had called for the Islamic party to be given only "consolation posts".

"Azmin actually had to defend PAS to ensure his team is balanced," the source said.

Mr Anwar had suffered a huge blow when his eight-month struggle to control Malaysia's richest state ended in defeat last week.

Although he finally succeeded in ousting the incumbent menteri besar, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, last month, the power struggle threatened to tear apart the six-year-old opposition alliance.

The Islamic PAS, in particular, was opposed to Mr Anwar's push to install his wife, Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, as menteri besar.

Mr Anwar's last hope faded last week after Selangor's powerful sultan refused to grant him or his wife an audience to consider Dr Wan Azizah's candidacy for the menteri besar post, choosing Mr Azmin instead.

Analysts believe PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang had tried to shift the power balance in PR from Mr Anwar, but this resulted in an internal crisis that culminated in the by-election defeat of PAS on Thursday to Malaysia's ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) in the Islamic party's stronghold of Kelantan.

That PKR and DAP leaders stayed away from the Pengkalan Kubor campaign underlined that the Islamic party is stronger when cooperating with its partners, the analysts said.

Although 50-year-old Mr Azmin had to allow Mr Anwar's loyalists to outnumber his own in the line-up, his camp is confident that the MB will still hold sway as the DAP and PAS exco have been quietly supportive of him.

Mr Azmin also said yesterday the decision over portfolios will be made only over the weekend, with a source saying that one of Mr Anwar's men will be put in charge of education, a junior position.

In a blow to PAS, the Menteri Besar is also expected to be in charge of Islamic development, a key portfolio in building ground support.

This article was first published on Sept 27, 2014.
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