Posted: 13 Jun 2013 03:11 PM PDT
Ian McIntyre, The Star
Rumours are rampant that Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah is canvassing support, especially among leaders in Sabah and Sarawak, to challenge Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in Parliament and for the party's presidency post in upcoming elections.
Sources said that Tengku Razaleigh, affectionately known as Ku Li, has been meeting with several Barisan Nasional members of parliament from Sabah and Sarawak to explore possibilities.
He has met about 17 MPs, insiders with knowledge to the issue, sources revealed.
They said that the group of MPs represent politicians who were disillusioned with Najib for not appointing them to the federal cabinet even though most bumiputras from Sabah and Sarawak voted for Barisan in last month's general election.
They claim that some MPs in Sabah and Sarawak were under the impression that Najib had grown weaker because even though he had conceded much to the Chinese community, the community had overwhelmingly rejected Barisan.
They believe that this had polarised the nation and the country could not move forward effectively with such heavy "political baggage in tow".
Sources said they are worried that a weak Barisan would be would not be able to govern decisively in the long run.
These leaders in Sabah and Sarawak want a strong Barisan that could commit more funds and resources to develop the two, largely rural, states, sources said.
Ku Li is seen as a possible "father of national unity" as he has the clout to unite the factions in Barisan with Pakatan, but PKR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is believed to be against it, as the latter feels it is his legacy to one day become the country's prime minister, sources said.
However, Ku Li's 2008 suggestion to form a government based on national unity continues to resonate with certain political groups and observers.
Among the suggestions, is that this group of disgruntled MPs including Ku Li, combine their resources with the 89 MPs from Pakatan Rakyat to file a no-confidence motion against Najib's leadership when Parliament reconvenes its new legislative term later this month.
They need 35 to make it happen.
Ku Li, who is the country's longest serving parliamentarian, as well as his aides, have declined comment and the rumours continue to swirl.
Another element of the rumour is that the Kelantan Prince, who is now 78, might yet again go for the Umno president's post.
Ku Li's friend Datuk Seri Yusoff Latiff, the Penang Malays Association president, said he had not heard talk about Ku Li seeking to go to Parliament to challenge Najib, and said he was inclined to believe that it was not true.
"Ku Li has already stated that his future is with Umno. Why rock the boat."
Kelantan Umno secretary Datuk Md Alwi Che Ahmad believes that such talk could be the work of Pakatan to divide Umno, but stressed that if Ku Li continued to harbour hopes of becoming prime minister, he should challenge Najib during the party elections.
"Najib is open to anyone contesting him as it is part of democracy. To find ways to oust a leader in parliament is not a Malaysian culture, though," Alwi stressed.
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