Selangor's Pakatan Rakyat govt losing its shine

Selangor's Pakatan Rakyat govt losing its shine
Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said the partnership would allow the state to learn from other countries that had successfully implemented integrated coastal development.

Malaysia's opposition alliance won key state legislatures including Selangor in the 2008 general election with promises to do things more efficiently and fairly than the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition led by Umno.

But as its control of Selangor runs into the sixth year now, the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) government is running out of voter goodwill due to its seeming failure to tame an Islamic agency run by the state, which disrupted a Hindu temple wedding last week because the bride was believed to be a Muslim, analysts say.

Selangor has also drawn flak from residents for other problems, including approving a controversial expressway, poor handling of a recent water shortage, and the strife between Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim and key Selangor PR chief Azmin Ali.

These weaknesses could seriously weaken support for PR, analysts say. This is because Selangor, and Penang - which it also controls - have been presented as showcase states to show that the PR is an able administrator and should be given the chance to run the federal government.

"The PR has been given two terms to govern Selangor but recent issues suggested that it has failed to deliver promises of a new politics which is more inclusive and transparent," academic Faisal Hazis of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak told The Straits Times.

"This has seriously put Mr Khalid's and the Selangor PR's leadership into question."

In the Sunday incident at the temple, Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) officers stepped into the wedding ceremony of Ms Zarina Abdul Majid, causing an uproar among Hindus.

Ms Zarina said she is a practising Hindu and had been converted without her knowledge as a child by her estranged father who became a Muslim. Under Malaysian law, it is difficult for a Muslim to renounce Islam.

Menteri Besar Khalid said yesterday the state government is trying to resolve the issue and called the incident "embarrassing".

Mr Khalid has also been criticised as Jais hasn't returned some 300 Malay-language Bibles confiscated from a Christian organisation in January.

Meantime, residents of Petaling Jaya are increasingly frustrated with Mr Khalid's administration for not consulting them before approving the RM2.4 billion (S$930 million) Kinrara-Damansara expressway, or Kidex. The project was approved in 2012, four years after PR wrested Selangor from BN.

There could be more trouble.

The water crisis that affected millions of households and thousands of businesses in Selangor during February to April has upset businessmen, some of whom have threatened to move out.

Officials expect another period of drought from next month.

The infighting between Mr Khalid's camp and Mr Azmin is also to blame for some of the mess in the Selangor administration, said Mr Khoo Kay Peng, an analyst who runs his own consultancy firm.

In March, even opposition supporters were surprised when the PR assemblyman for Kajang was told to step down so that a by-election could be called. This was a roundabout way to resolve the Khalid-Azmin impasse by putting opposition chief Anwar Ibrahim as menteri besar. But the plan failed when he was legally barred from contesting.

Selangor MP Ong Kian Ming said PR could be booted out if it failed to resolve these problems. "I won't blame the people of Selangor if they feel disappointed with the current administration."

This article was first published on June 05, 2014.
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