Khalid departs with two indelible black marks
Refusing to step down and refusing to speak up against gender inequality has tainted Khalid’s time as the MB.
COMMENTBy Koon Yew Yin
inevitable exit of Khalid Ibrahim from the Selangor Menteri Besar’s
(MB) post marks the end of a turbulent and sorry phase in our country’s
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 judgement among non-politicians as well as
from professionals in the legal fraternity including 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
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
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 organisations that subscribe to
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 at the way in which he was
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 wilfully provoked an untimely and
unnecessary crisis between his own party, PKR, and PAS, history will
judge Khalid harshly for several other reasons.
Perhaps the most important is that he contributed, wittingly or
unwittingly, to a redefinition of the powers of the constitutional
monarchy which resulted in the undermining of our parliamentary
We will never know the contents of the discussions held between the
Selangor Sultan and Khalid . However, as the outgoing MB and political
adviser to the Sultan, it was surely incumbent upon 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
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 MB.
Instead he chose to remain silent and by doing so, contributed to a major setback in gender equality in the country’s politics.
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.
However these two indelible black marks will remain forever
associated with his name – in legal, constitutional and historical
Koon Yew Yin is an FMT reader