The only 'clean' spot in Umno? But Ku Li to stay even if dropped as GE-13 candidate
Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh has dismissed speculation that he will leave Umno and stand as an Independent candidate if he is not picked to run as the BN candidate for his stronghold in the 13th general election, which is expected to be called this year.
“Do not question my loyalty to the party. I have over 50 years in Umno,”Bernama reported the Kelantan prince, who is also known as Ku Li, as saying.
The only 'clean' spot in Umno?
Indeed, it would be foolish for the Umno president, Prime Minister Najib Razak, not to pick Ku Li, who has been the Gua Musang MP for 43 years. In fact, if Najib did not, he would only be handing the seat on a silver platter to PAS, which dominates over the rest of Kelantan state.
In recent months, since setting up a Third Force political movement - Amanah - there has been speculation Ku Li ad his supporters might pull out of Umno or even join the Pakatan Rakyat led by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.
The recent resignation from Umno of Kadir Sheikh Fadzir - who is Ku Li's deputy in Amanah - added to the talk that the Gua Musang MP would be next. The Ku Li faction is seen as the only grouping willing to take a principled stand and criticize the current Umno leadership for failing to reform their corruption-riddled party.
Indeed, in the 1980s, Ku Li and Information minister Rais Yatim had pulled out of Umno after a spat with former premier Mahathir Mohamad. They rejoined after several years in the political wilderness when their Semangat 46 party failed to capture the hearts and minds of voters.
Baptism of fire over, odds are now with the Pakatan
In GE-13, the chances have evened out for the Pakatan after an initial baptism of fire from the Umno-BN, which forced their Opposition rivals to struggle through a mountain of false news and accusations.
However, four years have passed since Anwar and his coalition won the people's vote in the March 2008 watershed election, and the 4 states they run have performed well, especially the PKR-led Selangor and DAP-led Penang.
Many pundits now put the odds with the Pakatan, given Umno's refusal to reform and abandon corruption - which has been the main scourge for both the party and the nation.
Renewed sense of rage
In Kelantan as well as in Terengganu, there is also renewed sense of anger against the 'cruelty' practiced by Mahathir and now perpetuated by Najib in refusing to pay the two states their oil royalty just because they were ruled by PAS. As a result, both states remain poor and under-developed.
Kelantan has been a PAS stronghold for more than 2 decades, while Terengganu was also led by PAS from 1999 to 2004. This feeling of rage is expected to tip Terengganu back into Pakatan hands in the GE-13.
“The coming general election is going to be fiercely fought and Kelantan Umno's chances are always there but several matters in the state, including the oil royalty issue and national-level issues, have to be solved,” warned Ku Li.