Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The Ku Li Dilemma: Power Must Be Taken, Not Given


The Ku Li Dilemma: Power Must Be Taken, Not Given

By Raja Petra Kamarudin

According to ‘legend’, when Tun Hussein Onn took over as PM3 after the death of Tun Razak Hussein in January 1976, he wanted to appoint Tun Muhammad Ghazali Shafie as his deputy. However, Ghazali was not one of Umno’s three vice presidents. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah (Ku Li), Tun Ghafar Baba, and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad were (in that order of priority).

Hence Ku Li should have been the first choice of deputy prime minister, followed by Ghafar and then Mahathir.

Somehow, for some strange reason, Ku Li declined the post. And since Ghafar did not have the ‘right’ credentials, the job went Mahathir (the number three in line). However, according to Ku Li, it came with a condition. And that condition was, when Mahathir eventually becomes prime minister, he would appoint Ku Li as his deputy.

Well, Mahathir did eventually become prime minister five years later in 1981. But he refused to appoint Ku Li as the number two. Mahathir said he will leave it to Umno to decide who they want as number two. However, if he was asked who he would like as number two, said Mahathir, he would choose Tun Musa Hitam.

To cut a long story short, Mahathir stabbed Ku Li in the back. Ku Li, who was the then Finance Minister, was demoted to the Trade and Industry Minister, and after that it was open warfare between Mahathir and Ku Li.

In 1987, Ku Li got wiped out and in 1988 he set up Semangat 46 as the replacement and ‘original’ Umno of 1946 to challenge Mahathir’s ‘fake’ Umno Baru (at least that was the narrative they told the Malays).

Anyone who is someone knows this story of Umno’s 12-year journey from 1976 to 1988, even if they were born after 1990. But what many cannot fathom is what possessed Ku Li to give up the post of deputy prime minister in 1976, and then fight for it from 1981 to 1987 (and fail)?

The post of deputy prime minister was in Ku Li’s hands in 1976 and he let it go. And for the last 40 years since 1981, Ku Li has been fighting for the post of prime minister, which technically was already his 45 years ago in 1976. How do you explain this?

The English say, opportunity knocks but once. And if you do not open the door to opportunity, it will go away and will never come back again. Ku Li closed the door to opportunity 45 years ago in 1976. And the opportunity never came back to knock on his door again.

Ku Li was only 39 years old in 1976 when he had the chance to become Malaysia’s deputy prime minister, just about the right age. Today, he is 84, and he still dreams of becoming prime minister.

An 84-year-old prime minister is too old lah! Only Pakatan Harapan will appoint a 93-year-old man as prime minister. Even then they tried to get rid of him 22 months later when they discovered Mahathir has a mind of his own and they could not control him like they thought they could.

Ku Li needs to wake up to the fact that power must be taken. It cannot be given. Ku Li expects power to be given to him. That is never going to happen. He can wait till the day he dies, and he will still be waiting. In fact, Ku Li has been prime minister-in-waiting even longer than Anwar Ibrahim has.

Today, Ku Li announced he has resigned as the chairman of Umno’s advisory council. And Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said this is because Ku LI merajuk that he cannot become the prime minister. Ku Li, on the other hand, said Umno has lost its way and is no longer the party that was formed in 1946.

But then this was what Ku Li said in 1988 when he formed Semangat 46, allegedly to restore the spirit of the Umno that was formed in 1946. And then, eight years later in 1996, he wound up Semangat 46 and went back to Umno. Why did he do this? What was the reason he wound up Semangat 46 and went back to Umno? Until today, Ku Li has not explained this strange turn of events.

And now, again, just like back in 1988, Ku Li is saying Umno has lost its way and has lost the spirit or semangat of the 1946 Umno. Why are we going down this same road, yet again, like what we did 33 years ago?

Many of us supported Semangat 46 when it was first formed in 1988. In fact, the PAS supporters voted for Semangat 46 in the Teluk Pasu by-election (which they won) and in the 1990 and 1995 general elections. And we were very disappointed when Semangat 46 was wound up in 1996 and everyone went back to Umno.

If Ku Li thinks he can form Semangat 46 version 2.0 and recapture the support which he got 33 years ago, he needs a reality check. The 1980s and 1990s were a different era. In the mid-1980s, Malaysia’s population was only 16 million. Today, it is double that.

In the mid-1980s, there was no social media. Today, Malaysia has 28 million social media users.

In the mid-1980s, 4.7 million Malaysians voted in the general election. In the next general election, there will be 10 million more voters than in the mid-1980s.

You cannot restore the Umno of 1946. You need to bring Umno into the future, not back to the past. Ten million more voters will be voting in the next general election compared to in the mid-1980s. And these people have different values and priorities. And what concerns people today is money, not sentiments concerning the birth of Umno in 1946 and the Malay ‘struggle’.

Today’s Malaysians are not grateful for what they have. They moan, complain, and grumble. They expect the government to give them everything without them having to give anything back, as if the world owes them a favour.

They are selfish and demanding, contribute nothing to the world, and expect to be pampered and spoiled. They even blame the government for the Covid-19 pandemic when it is they who refuse to follow the SOP rules.

You can never please the present generation, never mind what you do. Do you think they care about the spirit of the Umno of 1946?


  1. As Penang flers said, he will forever be Kuli , and never will be the Tauke.

  2. Aaahhh...The Nearly Man.....Nearly Did This, Nearly Did That, But Actually Did Nothing.

    Didn't Even Know He was in UMNO Advisory Council. So did on he advise UMNO on all their Political Moves like Sheraton Shake....?