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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Ku Li unlikely to become PM

Mahathir stands in his way again.
COMMENT
Tengku-Razaleigh-Hamzah_mahathir_600It’s unlikely that Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah will become Prime Minister even this time, or finally, as a result of the simmering Najib-Mahathir feud, no matter how much former Law Minister and fellow Kelantanese Zaid Ibrahim roots for him. Zaid is indulging in wishful thinking and living on hope.
That doesn’t mean that his suggestion has no merits. In fact, Razaleigh is the only Umno MP left with any leadership credentials. Sill, there are too many caveats.
For one, Razaleigh has never even once shown any inclination for the post, whether publicly or privately. For another, so many power brokers have denied him both the deputy presidency and presidency of Umno at one time or another, while not hesitating to pit him against their enemies whenever they found it politically expedient to do so.
Of course, it would be a heaven sent for Umno if Razaleigh becomes Prime Minister and an unmitigated disaster for the opposition alliance, Pakatan Rakyat. But since it’s unlikely to happen, let’s not go there for now.
In 1987, for example, it was then Umno Deputy President Musa Hitam who persuaded Razaleigh, after resigning as Deputy Prime Minister, to team up with him for the top two positions in the party. Razaleigh took on Mahathir while Musa challenged Ghafar Baba, newly drafted in as Deputy Prime Minister, for the number two slot. It was a strange marriage of convenience which probably would have ended in Musa doing a number on his partner had it succeeded.
The evidence is plenty.
It was Musa who castigated Mahathir for keeping Razaleigh in the Cabinet after having been challenged by him, not once, but twice for the party deputy presidency. Mahathir, having been the one who quietly persuaded Razaleigh to battle Musa, decided to retain both in the Cabinet “since it would be safer for him to do so as a check and balance”. Musa eventually realised this and entered into his infamous marriage of convenience with Razaleigh in 1987.
Musa also had eternal complaints about Samy Vellu, for not respecting him as Deputy Prime Minister, and Anwar Ibrahim for his “holier than thou takes on Islam”.
Had Musa bid his time, he could have outlasted Mahathir but unfortunately he was too thin-skinned to take his boss’ public criticisms while criticizing all and sundry including his boss. Mahathir fought back. The rest is history.
In the 1987 Umno elections, Mahathir beat Razaleigh for the presidency by 43 votes in results that were disputed.
When the case went to court, Judge Harun Hashim ruled that voters from 30 illegal branches aligned to Mahathir had voted in the presidential elections. He ruled Umno unlawful and that played into Mahathir’s hands. He quickly registered Umno Baru and “re-registered” Umno members while leaving out Razaleigh’s supporters.
The judge could have awarded the Umno presidency to Razaleigh after discounting the illegal votes, instead of declaring a 41 year-old party as unlawful. The court generally holds that no election is free of fraud. But what matters is whether the extent of fraud was sufficient to affect the outcome. If so, either a re-election can be ordered or the court can award victory to the rightful party.
The pro-Razaleigh parties who dragged the matter to court did not launch a credible appeal. Musa kept quiet, having by now abandoned his partner. Razaleigh remained silent.
If Mahathir has even the slightest remorse left in him, he would root like Zaid for Razaleigh to replace Najib.

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