Khalid’s Departure and The Two Indelible Black Marks

The inevitable exit of Khalid Ibrahim from the mentri besarship of Selangor marks the end of a turbulent and sorry phase in our country’s political history. In his last official address, the outgoing political leader told his audience of state civil servants to ignore the political drama and to let politicians do war with one another. He also stated that their drama will eventually become a joke.

Perhaps Khalid was not aware of the supreme irony of his statements. The consensus of informed judgment among non-politicians as well as from professionals in the legal fraternity and from academia is that it was Khalid himself who brought about the needless drama. Many will also see Khalid as the biggest joker as well as the principle villain in this wayang kulit.

As a politician, Khalid should have been fully aware of, and should have honoured, the rules of democratic leadership. The first rule is that a leader has a position and stays on for as long as his party has confidence in him and supports him in the post that he is selected to hold. This is the same for all positions in the party or the state – beginning with whether it is as branch chairman or at the highest level of the state. These rules of the game applies not only to political parties. It also applies to all organizations that subscribe to democratic norms.

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Not only did Khalid refuse to abide by this basic principle of democratic leadership but he also gave the public – as well as other key stake players such as the monarchy – the false impression that he had the support of the majority of state assembly members in his attempt to resist being replaced as the MB. Whatever the reason for his unhappiness with the way in which he was being replaced, and however justified he was at being let down by his fellow party leaders, his response and attempts at delaying or circumventing the termination of his tenure, could in no way justify his blatant use of the palace and other individuals and parties to extend his stay in office. Neither can he justify what is commonly perceived to be his efforts at trying to influence the selection of the next MB.

Besides being castigated as the politician who attempted to cling to power by fair or foul means and who willfully provoked an untimely and unnecessary crisis between his own party, PKR, and PAS, history will judge Khalid Ibrahim harshly for several other reasons. Perhaps the most important is that he has contributed, wittingly or unwittingly, to a redefinition of the powers of the constitutional monarchy which has resulted in the undermining of our parliamentary democracy system.

We will never know the contents of the discussions held between the Selangor Sultan and Khalid Ibrahim. However, as the outgoing MB and political adviser to the Sultan, it was surely incumbent of him to reiterate the basic principles and processes which underpin the country’s parliamentary democratic system, whether at state or federal level; and to ensure that these principles and processes are not undermined in any way. That does not seem to have happened. As one of our most astute political commentators puts it

The decision of the Sultan of Selangor to decide for himself who would be the most suitable candidate for Mentri Besar has established a new principle of governance in the country.

It is not enough that the party with the majority of seats in the state assembly should select its candidate of Mentri Besar — the candidate must now also be formally “acceptable” to the Ruler.

– See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/what-you-think/article/honourable-men-zaid-ibrahim#sthash.j2es8gHF.dpuf

Further, as someone who gives the public the impression that he respects gender equality, Khalid should have been the first person to refute the objections raised in various conservative quarters on the prospect of a female Mentri Besar. Instead he chose to remain silent and by doing so, has contributed to a major setback to gender equality in politics in the country.

There are several other reasons why Khalid can be seen to have done a disservice to the cause of democratic, parliamentary and gender advancement in the country. But these two indelible black marks will remain forever associated with his name – in the legal, constitutional and history books.

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