SHAH ALAM, Malaysia - Selangor's ruler asked on Tuesday for more than two candidates to be nominated to replace outgoing chief minister Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, disrupting opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's plans to elevate his wife to power in Malaysia's richest state.
Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, who held an audience with Tan Sri Khalid, also told him to defer his resignation until the palace can determine his replacement.
"The Selangor Sultan has decreed that the leaders of PAS (Parti Islam SeMalaysia), PKR (Parti Keadilan Rakyat) and (Democratic Action Party) propose more than two names from Pakatan Rakyat (PR) as Menteri Besar candidates to ease His Majesty in determining who is qualified," a statement from the palace said.
The ruler, who shortened his overseas holiday last week to deal with the crisis, met his Menteri Besar, Mr Khalid, as required by protocol even though the politician has lost the support of the PR alliance that has governed Selangor since 2008. The alliance consists of PKR, PAS and the DAP.
"I have stated that I am intending to resign. But His Majesty has decided to defer the acceptance of my resignation until he has decided on who to replace the menteri besar," Mr Khalid said on Tuesday.
Datuk Seri Anwar's PKR has pushed since January to oust Mr Khalid after the coalition accused him of being uncooperative, and early this month alleged that he abused his position to clear a RM70 million (S$28 million) debt. He was sacked by PKR on Aug 9.
Mr Anwar has proposed his wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail as the new chief minister, but the Sultan had allowed Mr Khalid to remain in power in the last two weeks as PAS continued to endorse him. The Islamic party finally withdrew its support for Mr Khalid on Aug 17.
But complicating the crisis, PAS has been unwilling to fully back Datuk Seri Wan Azizah for the post. The Islamic party is demanding the PKR president's name be sent for royal assent along with that of her deputy, Mr Azmin Ali.
Mr Azmin did not decline PAS' nomination. A source close to him told The Straits Times that if PKR decides to submit his name to the palace, "Azmin will surely accept as a party loyalist".
Dr Wan Azizah has statutory declarations of support from 29 fellow lawmakers in the 56-strong legislative house, but 13 PAS assemblymen have been ordered by their leadership not to follow suit.
Mr Wan Saiful Wan Jan, who heads think-tank Ideas, said it was a possibility PAS might submit a third name from its own ranks as the Sultan's instructions would likely "create confusion among the parties".
"It is a testing time but the best solution is for PR to sit down and make a joint decision and come to an understanding on all three names. If they decide on their own, it will be havoc," he told The Straits Times.
This article was first published on August 27, 2014.
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