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Anwar Ibrahim named PKR candidate for Kajang state seat

Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was on Tuesday named as the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) candidate for the yet-to-be-announced by-election for the Kajang state seat vacated on Monday by incumbent Lee Chin Cheh of the PKR.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was on Tuesday named as the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) candidate for the yet-to-be-announced by-election for the Kajang state seat vacated on Monday by incumbent Lee Chin Cheh of the PKR.

The announcement was made by Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim who said that the Pakatan Rakyat Leadership Council decided on Anwar, the PKR de facto leader, as the candidate at its meeting on Tuesday.

"Following the Kajang state seat falling vacant after the resignation of the incumbent from the PKR, the Pakatan Rakyat Leadership Council has decided to nominate Datuk Seri Anwar as the Pakatan Rakyat candidate (in the by-election)," he told a news conference at the PKR headquarters.

Also present at the news conference were Anwar, PAS vice-president Salahuddin Ayub and DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang.

Lee announced his resignation as the assemblyman for Kajang on Monday. He had won the seat in the general election last May with a majority of 6,824 votes, beating the Barisan Nasional, Berjasa and three independent candidates in a six-cornered contest.

It was a unanimous decision by the three Pakatan Rakyat allies, who felt that Anwar was the best candidate for the by-election as he could strengthen the PKR leadership in Selangor.

The Selangor state government has been plagued by constant infighting, stemming primarily from a long-standing rift between party deputy president Azmin Ali and the current Menteri Besar, Khalid Ibrahim.

Speaking at the news conference, Anwar downplayed the rift which, he said had been exaggerated.

His entry into the Selangor state government, he said, was to boost Pakatan's chances to seize power in the next election.

"(As the) DAP and PAS nominated me, I don't have a choice but to contest. We thought we should be a major base for Pakatan Rakyat to move forward to Putrajaya," said Anwar.

However, the 66-year-old opposition leader dismissed widespread speculation that he would replace the current chief minister, Khalid Ibrahim, after he won the by-election.

Anwar added: "That's still just speculation. Right now, I want to focus on winning the state seat."

Mentri Besar Khalid has been at loggerheads with the party leadership over government pay hikes and water issues.

The disagreement reached a climax when Azmin was removed from the state development corporation.

Speaking outside the party headquarters, Azmin said although he may or may not agree, he respected the party's decision.

"Who am I? I am just a small man, Azmin. I have to defend the decision taken by the party and also by Pakatan Rakyat. It was a unanimous decision," said Azmin.

All eyes are now on the Kajang by-election, which must be held within 60 days.

Analysts said it could be an easy victory for Anwar given that its a mixed seat in an urban centre.

But the PKR's move to stage a by-election in a bid to solve its own internal politics has also drawn criticism from some who question whether it will be the best use of taxpayer's money at a time when the people are grappling with rising costs of living. 

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