Known for his steely, no-nonsense demeanour, Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali is seen as a reliable pair of hands within the federal opposition pact and noted for his careful, meticulous decision-making.
If you take a look around Selangor, the richest state in Malaysia, you will see the effects of Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali’s leadership. As a first term Chief Minister of Selangor, Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali has been credited with making Selangor among the best performing states in Malaysia. Since he took over, Selangor has grown as the leading contributor to Malaysia’s GDP, with many of his government’s initiatives in multiple industries being pointed out as the cause. Simultaneously, its debt was almost halved from RM27.1 million in 2015 down to RM14.7 million in 2016, which is after he came into office, and in contrast to Pahang and Kedah’s debt, which stands at over RM1 billion each.
His achievements aside, Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali hopes to convince voters in the upcoming elections that he is a competent leader for all, capable of steering Selangor in the right direction.
Born on the 25th of August 1964 in Singapore, the fourth child of six siblings, Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali grew up in a household with close ties to the military. His father, Haji Ali Omar, was part of the British army before serving in the Malaysian army. Four years after Azmin was born, his father moved the family to Gombak (where he currently serves as an elected rep).
It is easy to see why Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali’s meteoric rise in politics is inevitable. US-educated with a never-say-die attitude, The Star back in 2010 noted Azmin’s “impeccable understanding of timing in politics,” something very few politicians are able to discern. This, coupled with his impressive intellect and persuasive style of argument made Dr Mahathir Mohamad handpick him at the tender age of 23 in the mid-1980s to be Anwar Ibrahim’s Special Officer while Anwar served as Minister of Education. The position not only cemented his loyalty to Anwar Ibrahim, it also established his reputation as a dynamic and progressive leader.
Dynamic and Progressive
Unlike his predecessor, former chief minister Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali’s commitment towards improving the lives and welfare of all citizens in Selangor irrespective of race and religion reflected his dynamic and progressive style of leadership. His stance on the forced removal of the cross at a church in Taman Medan, Petaling Jaya in 2015 heralded the arrival of a new breed of politician who is unafraid to speak out on issues that affect the multicultural fabric of Selangor. His continued support of the Malay, Chinese and Indian communities in Selangor through various Smart Selangor Initiatives is a testament to his administrations’ belief that racial and religious diversity forms the bedrock of Selangor’s unique cultural identity. In addition to this, his transparent and accountable administration during his tenure as Chief Minister ensures that he remains popular among voters in Selangor.
Speaking to Today Online, PKR vice president Chua Tian Chang, who has known Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali since 1998, Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali has managed to set himself apart from his contemporaries with his work ethic. Compared to other politicians, he is a conscientious leader who prefers to let his work show for itself.
“He may not be as charismatic as Anwar but this is one of his strengths because sometimes, you need a person who can translate policies into actions,” said Mr Chua, popularly known as Tian Chua. “He is a doer and not a talker. He prefers to work and let the results speak for themselves.”
This sentiment was shared by Dato’ Teng Chang Khim, the vice-chairman of the Selangor DAP, who described Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali as “cool-headed” and “capable” leader who is keenly interested in the affairs of the state and learns fast.
Dato’ Teng — who has worked under Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali for three years as a state executive councillor — said Selangor has attracted billions in foreign investments.
The administration has also rolled out various programmes for the bottom 40 percentile (B40) of Malaysians in the state including free shuttle buses and subsidised medical care for households earning below RM3,000 a month.
Despite his administrations’ success, the nomination of Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the opposition’s candidate for prime minister has shone the spotlight on Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali’s political ambitions with questions being raised about his political future. It has to be said that politicians of Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali’s calibre will not be content to merely remain as Chief Minister forever. It is clear that he is widely seen as one of the most promising politicians in the opposition ranks as well as a potential prime ministerial candidate. His success as the Chief Minister in the country’s richest state indicates that he has the mettle for greater responsibilities in the future.
In the end, as DAP’s Dato’ Teng says, “A good politician should always look ahead for bigger, better things.