Tengku Razaleigh: A De Gaulle or Rab Butler of Malaysian Politics?

June 14,2013

MY COMMENT: In my book, YBM Tengku Razaleigh has all theDin Merican at RSGC makings to be our next Prime Minister. He combines experience in public administration with political wisdom and personal integrity. The Tengku was groomed by Tun Razak at an early age for this top post. He was Chairman of PERNAS and PETRONAS and Bank Bumiputra, Minister of Finance and Minister of Trade and Industry, but somehow he let the opportunity go by when Tun Hussein Onn was thinking of a suitable successor in 1981.

In 2008, he was courted by the Opposition and offered the post of Prime Minister if he could bring enough UMNO Parliamentarians with him. It did not happen. Now that UMNO is in crisis over Najib’s leadership after GE-13, Tengku Razaleigh is back in the news. Opportunity presents itself again for the Tengku to be in the arena of leadership.

What will it take the much respected and admired Kelantanese prince and arguably Kelantan’s most eminent politician with a technocratic bent to seize the moment. It is time for decisive action on his part. Muster enough support to challenge Najib for UMNO Presidency or do a deal with forces of change and others in UMNO-Barisan Nasional which will enable him to be Prime Minister.

Our country needs a leader who can govern with lots of conviction and truly change the course of Malaysian political history. Tengku Razaleigh, as I know him through the years, is our man of the moment.  Teddy Roosevelt has a message for the Tengku as follows:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Seize it and be in the theatre of action,YBM Tengku—Din Merican

Tengku Razaleigh: A De Gaulle or Rab Butler of Malaysian Politics?

by Terence Netto@http://www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT: If there is anything sadder in life than unrequited love, it must be unfulfilled ambition.Almost three decades ago, the flavour of that truth was hinted at by the subtitle of a biography of Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, ‘An Unending Quest’.

That subtitle and what it entails are evoked by the news that the 10-term MP, the longest such occupancy by a federal legislator in Malaysian parliamentary history, who was returned from his southern Kelantan bailiwick of Gua Musang with a larger majority in the May 5 polls, has begun meeting with assorted MPs of the 13th Parliament.

tengku razaleigh speech 110310 02The latter are said to be unhappy with the putative contestants for prime ministerial power in the country’s presently unstable political scenario.

These contenders are Najib Abdul Razak, who has said he expects to be challenged for the post of UMNO president with its undisputed claim to the PM-ship of the country; Muhyiddin Yassin, who is apparently timorous about his prospects of unseating Najib; and Anwar Ibrahim, who is stalled by the fact that the rousing crowds which attended his pre-polls rallies did not proportionately translate into actual Pakatan Rakyat seats in the House, a point that’s up for contention in the courts.

In other words, the situation is the best yet for a final shy at the prime ministerial wicket by the person who, for the better part of the past three decades, has been trying to be PM only to fail at each attempt by a peculiar combination of aristocratic hauteur and scruple.

When in April 1981, then Prime Minister Hussein Onn, having decided to retire, called aside UMNO Senior Vice-President Razaleigh to advise him to opt for the Deputy presidency of the party instead of the top post because Hussein wanted his Deputy Dr Mahathir Mohamad to succeed him, the more popular Kelantanese prince’s sense of amour-propre led him to abide by the elder politician’s wishes.

Musa_dan_Ku_Li[1]Odd Couple: Tun Musa Hitam and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah

Out of deference to the retiree, Razaleigh went for the Deputy President’s post, to which he was surprisingly beaten, as much by the savvy style of challenger Musa Hitam as by revulsion at the hauteur of a Razaleigh campaign that showed little or no understanding of the Malay distaste for overweening presumption.

A beaten Razaleigh sulked for three years before vying once more for the Deputy President’s post in 1984, losing yet again to Musa by the same margin of 200-plus votes, a result that showed that the strong support Razaleigh long enjoyed in UMNO had not waned despite the man’s attenuation from the top two posts of the party, regarded as his not just by logical progression up the party hierarchy, but by something that is more aptly rendered by the term ‘manifest destiny’.

Rivals teamed up

In 1987, internal ructions in UMNO saw Musa teaming up with ex-foe Razaleigh to take on Mahathir and Ghafar Baba for the No 1 and 2 posts respectively, with Razaleigh and Musa losing in a vote the losers suspected was tainted with fraud in much the same way that Pakatan suspects the vote in several seats in Election 2013 was marred by cheating.

A court case ensued with the verdict eventuating in the creation of an UMNO splinter, Semangat 46, led by Razaleigh, of course. This party led the Gagasan Rakyat opposition coalition which drew DAP and PAS into a tripartite force that fought BN in Election 1990, the first time since the 1969 polls that UMNO-BN were menaced with the possibility of a loss of its two-thirds parliamentary majority.

But a devious Mahathir-inspired counter-thrust turned the Parti Bersatu Sabah’s eleventh-hour bolting of the BN stable and tying up with Gagasan, into a potentially sinister Christian plot against the Muslims of the peninsula.

Sufficient numbers of the latter were rendered anxious enough to rescind a nascent inclination to support Gagasan which stuttered to defeat at the 1990 polls after having surged on popular discontent with the authoritarian ways of Mahathir.

A Gagasan-led denial of BN’s two-thirds parliamentary majority in the 1990 polls would in all probability have triggered the defection of more parties from the BN stable to the Gagasan camp, and Razaleigh’s prime ministerial ambitions would have waxed on that wave.

But quirks of fate and dwindling stamina saw Semangat 46 fold as a threat and return to the UMNO fold in 1996, a retreat that, had it been delayed by two years, would possibly have seen Razaleigh installed in the Prime Minister’s office by the 1999 general election when widespread anger at Mahathir’s treatment of Anwar Ibrahim caused fragmentation in the Malay vote, the first time since the 1969 polls when Malays in large numbers decided that UMNO was not their party of choice.

Razaleigh, as a lukewarm UMNO member and MP, kept his counsel during the years of Malay-voter disaffection (1999-2008) with UMNO over the mistreatment of Anwar which saw the latter goaled for up to six years on trumped-up corruption and sodomy charges.

NONEWhen a jail-freed Anwar led the opposition to a denial of the BN’s two-thirds majority at the March 2008 polls, Anwar approached Razaleigh the following month with an offer that Razaleigh be Prime Minister for a term, provided the latter could bring across the aisle 10 UMNO MPs allied to him which Anwar would transmute, aided by defections from BN MPs from Sabah and Sarawak, into a new government-forming parliamentary majority that would call for fresh polls.

Razaleigh wanted 30 seats for which he would choose the candidates at the fresh polls; Anwar, opting for Deputy PM for a term under Razaleigh, would only offer him 10.

The deal fell through and Razaleigh chose to continue to bide his time in UMNO, keeping his PM-ambitions smoldering on a low flame while mulling the pros and cons of a still-fluid political situation wherein UMNO’s loss of its long hegemony over Malaysian politics ramified across the national landscape.

The Final Thrust

Election 2013 confirmed that the loss was not a fluke. This has introduced uncertainty into national politics and has given fresh impetus to a final thrust for the PM’s post by a septuagenarian politician who has long felt that it is his manifest destiny to become PM of Malaysia.

Hence the recent meeting between Razaleigh and 12 BN MPs from Sarawak and Sabah amidst a renewed flurry of speculation that Razaleigh is to become either the Charles de Gaulle of Malaysian politics or be confirmed as its Rab Butler.

The former was renowned as the imperturbable man of destiny who retreated into the wilderness after leading the Free French forces into Paris in 1944 upon the retreat of the occupying Nazi power but was not immediately called upon to lead the bedraggled French people to the greatness he had always envisioned for them.

The wilderness became one of the more romantic stretches in political history when De Gaulle retreated to it only to return with triumphant vindication in 1958 to lead France.

Rab Butler was an estimable Conservative Party leader who twice missed out – in 1956, after Anthony Eden quit over the Suez debacle, and in 1964, after Harold Macmillan resigned – on becoming the PM of Britain although he was qualified by service and experience to take the post.

At a ripe 76 years, will it be the manifest destiny of a De Gaulle for Razaleigh Hamzah or will it be a Butler-an denouement to the career of a man to whom an unfulfilled quest must be as repugnant as a flight to the safety of sanctuary must have been for Muammar Gaddafi in the days of dictator’s doom in Libya circa 2011?

15 thoughts on “Tengku Razaleigh: A De Gaulle or Rab Butler of Malaysian Politics?

  1. Malaysians now have a yearn to wish for impossible dreams…and this is a deal of mixing oil and water…..it will naturally separate back…..

  2. Din,
    All these talks can be explained very clearly in Yes Minister (Party Games) which saw the ascension of Jim Hacker to the premiershipt. To the horror of most logically thinking folks including Bernard Whooley. Actually wanna put in the whole series. But you can google it. This one is sufficient

  3. Almost any one is better than our current 1PM. He who is
    ruining the Malaysian finances as Finance Minister.
    (Almost anyone except for for Dr M, of course. The one who
    started it all)

  4. Will TRH seize the day ?? Or fade away to be totally forgotten in the annals of Malaysian history (like Abdullah Badawi in the near future)?

    1. Those who failed to seize the day and thus failed to make a difference:

    Alexander Kerensky
    Jean Jaures (assassinated)
    Hugh Gaitskell
    Robert Kennedy (assassinated)
    Ramsay MacDonald
    Neville Chamberlain
    Salvador Allende (suicide)
    Kwame Nkrumah
    Patrice Lumumba (murdered)

    2. Those who seized the day and made a difference for the better for the country or political party they led:

    Leon Blum
    Francois Mitterand
    David Lloyd George
    Keir Hardie
    Clement Attlee
    Winston Churchill
    Lech Walesa
    Vaclav Havel
    Franklin Roosevelt
    Bill Clinton
    Deng Xiao Ping (some may dispute this because of Tiananmen Square massacre)
    Corazon Aquino
    Nelson Mandela
    Julius Nyerere
    Lee Kuan Yew
    Lee Teng-Hui
    Willy Brandt
    Lula da Silva
    Rafael Correa (current President of Equador)
    Evo Morales (current President of Bolivia)
    Boris Yeltsin (some may dispute this)
    Mustafa Kemal
    Recep Erdogan

  5. ”…and this is a deal of mixing oil and water…..it will naturally separate back…..” LinLauBu 10:26 pm

    why not? if not for oil in water emulsions we wouldn’t have mayonnaise, butter or yoghurt, they are stable because of the added stabilisers, thickeners and gums.
    if you are hinting at the possible coalition of Ku-Li faction with PR then I’ll say the voters, pressure groups and NGO’s will act as stabilisers, thickeners and gums!
    nothing is impossible.

    dear Tengku Razaleigh,
    with all due respects to you Sir, after all that injustice they did to you, do you still trust them?
    not for PR and not for umno, but do it for the People of Malaysia, King and Country, join force with the agents of change to break the evil cycle of injustice, corruption and abuse of power crippling Malaysia by the rogues in umno/bn who call themselves politicians.

    happy weekend to all

  6. Tengku Razaligh knew,to fight Najib impossible for him to win.
    His strategy is to get the BN MP backing him as PM.He is currently negotianting with Taib Mahmud to get his support.If Taib can give him 20 plus MP,his job is done.

    Najib,Zaid and Anwar currently in Jakarta.Both Anwar and Najib will be meeting with SBY on Sunday.I hope something positive will come up after the meeting.

  7. It won’t be such advantage to Pakatan Rakyat if Ku Li becomes PM. It’s easier to march to Putrajaya with either Najib or Muhyiddin at the helm so they would rather have the two devils they know than the one which might be harder to take aim at and whack on a daily basis…

  8. Clash of the Titans plot, problem may be who to play Zeus and who will be Hades, the role Cronos will be perfect for Najib , who betrayed his father Uranus maybe a role played by Mahathir , by cutting off his genitals. then there are the Olympians and the Titans, the motley crew at UMNO can easily be handpicked for the latter.
    The Olympians need auditioning or casting call. But who will be the overlord Zeus and betray Hades by giving him the underworld after the Titans were defeated.

  9. Well, if Ku Li does get to be PM, I hope he won’t do a ‘Badawi’ on us. We need someone who is strong willed to take on Dr M. I’m not sure Ku Li is the man.

  10. SiangMalam

    Absolutely agree with you on that. Better a skeleton PM than a Prince that is much more loved by most people. With Najib, we can still keep hamtaming. With Kuli, we have to think how to get him off.

  11. Din,
    I felt that rather than Pakatan folks especially these PKR buggers including the chief named Anwar Ibrahim can do certain favour to Ku Li so as to bolster Pakatan’s advantage as well as folstering so called national reconcilliation you are talking about.
    Why not appoint Tengku Razaleigh as the Speaker of Dewan Rakyat? He is well known to be upright gentleman who still play by certain rules just like Tunku Abdul Rahman. Once Tengku Razaleigh is appointed, we shall see how neutral & transparent he would be on may issues. How many motions from the oppos he would pass? What about the PSC Najib promised to set up to really look into the parlimentary constituencies delineation as well as alteration of constituencies.

    The Election Commission has been skillful in altering contituencies to ensure that BN wins all the time. And BN wins big ALL THE TIME. GO AHEAD SUE ME! EC IS SUCK, BIASED & CRIMINAL IN NATURE. In fact, it has been the case even during Tunku’s days. Just that during Tunku days, certain rules are observed. That’s all.

  12. I have long lost hope in Tengku Razaleigh as the man to take up the challenge. When opportunities were ripe for him to turn the table against Mahathir, he demurred and lost his chances. Furthermore, his obsession to remain in UMNO in the hope of cleaning up a corrupt party full of ‘buayas” remains a pipe dream. It’s better that Razaleigh realizes that his timidity has done him no good at all.

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