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Mar 14, 2008

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NEW LEADER: Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim (left) with the Sultan at yesterday's swearing-in ceremony. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK


OPPOSITION Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) secretary-general Khalid Ibrahim was installed as chief minister of industrialised Selangor state in a royal ceremony yesterday against the backdrop of a potential row over the selection of his deputy.

He vowed not to spend unnecessarily amid the state's burgeoning growth and said that he would work to dismantle the New Economic Policy (NEP), the affirmative action policy that favours Malays.

Tan Sri Khalid said that his deputy did not have to be a Muslim, while the royal palace appeared to disagree.

'I think it will take a long time to resolve this. You must appreciate that we are in a monarchy system and that federated states...have their own conventions,' he told a news conference.

The palace said in a statement that it was not racially biased but that a deputy menteri besar should be a Malay Muslim in order to carry out duties as a state religious leader in the absence of the Sultan and the Menteri Besar.

Tan Sri Khalid did not rule out the possibility that he may not appoint a deputy to prevent infighting among the opposition parties. Both the conservative Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) and the Chinese-based Democratic Action Party (DAP) are believed to be vying to fill the post.

There is no deadline for him to appoint a deputy but he has nine days to submit a list of executive committee members to the Sultan.

The new Menteri Besar pledged to keep costs down and said that his government would not buy new cars or refurbish state offices.

'The people of Selangor want to see us managing the state in the most transparent manner. So I owe it to my voters to limit the luxury but sustain the activities of the state,' he said.

On the NEP, he said: 'We are going to create development that is conducive to every race. We are not race-biased. The whole population of Selangor should be given the fruits of development...whether it is the Malays, Chinese, Indians or others.'

He did not provide further details.

The Selangor Barisan Nasional was handed a shocking defeat by the opposition, which won 36 of the 56 state seats at stake.


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