KLANG: Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim brought about a new working culture to the state secretariat when he was appointed the mentri besar after Selangor changed hands from Barisan Nasional to Pakatan Harapan in 2008.
Efficiency and speed were his maxims, and even journalists could see how things were being run like clockwork.
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The Wednesday press conferences, after the weekly executive council meeting, were so efficiently conducted that as the newsmen left after the briefing, Khalid’s aides handed out press statements in both English and Bahasa Malaysia.
There was even a time when these press releases were in four languages, including Chinese and Tamil.
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Khalid was a stickler for efficiency, having been in the corporate sector for decades, and this also saw him run the state like a conglomerate.
Tight-fisted with money and holding firmly to the belief that state money must only be used strictly for the people’s benefit, Selangor’s reserves were said to have been the strongest during Khalid’s tenure.
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The former Selangor mentri besar, 76, who passed away late Sunday night at a private hospital after a long bout of ill health, was perhaps best known for his role in the 1981 Guthrie Dawn Raid.
It saw Permodalan Nasional Bhd obtain 51% of Guthrie shares from its British owners, Guthrie Corporation Ltd, via the London Stock Exchange in a couple of hours.
Guthrie Corporation Ltd then became Kumpulan Guthrie Bhd, for which Khalid was the chief executive officer from 1995 to 2003.
Khalid’s raid was also the beginning of local assets, held by foreign companies, coming back home.
He joined politics by becoming a member of PKR and contested in the Ijok by-election in 2007, which he lost to MIC candidate K. Parthiban.
The following year, Khalid contested for the Bandar Tun Razak parliamentary seat as well as the Ijok state seat and won both with a comfortable majority, which also saw him being installed as Selangor’s first non-Umno mentri besar.
In the 2013 general election, Khalid gave up his parliamentary seat and contested for the Port Klang state seat, as opposed to defending the Ijok seat, which he also won with a comfortable majority.
His stint as Selangor’s top man for a second term was short-lived and in December 2014 he was ousted by his own party, PKR.
Following the party’s infamous Kajang Move, he was instructed to resign to make way for another top echelon leader to take up the position.
When Khalid refused, he was unceremoniously sacked from PKR as a life member, which forced him to vacate the MB’s office.
On his last day in office, almost the entire state secretariat workforce came out to bid him farewell.
During his tenure as MB, Khalid implemented many changes, which made him both popular and unpopular.
He was the one who introduced the policy for Selangor households to receive 20 cubic metres of free water amounting to RM11.40 every month.
Khalid also eradicated direct negotiations for tenders.
He also directed that the mentri besar’s endorsement was not needed to secure state tenders, which would instead be awarded based on the collective decision of the executive council and relevant state government officers.
It was also under Khalid’s tenure that the Selangor Legislative Assembly passed the country’s first freedom of information legislation.
Born in Jeram, Kuala Selangor, in 1946, Khalid received his early education at Sekolah Melayu Jeram.
He eventually received a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Universiti Malaya and an MBA from Queensland University, Australia.
He leaves behind his wife, Puan Sri Salbiah Tunut, four children and two grandchildren.