Wednesday, January 30, 2008

State seat contest claims mere speculation - the Star 30 Jan 08

Ku Li: State seat contest claims mere speculation

KOTA BARU: Mere speculation – this is how Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah described claims that he would be picked to contest in a state seat in Kelantan.

The former Umno strongman, the longest-serving parliamentarian in the country, said speculation would continue until nomination day.

It is learnt that the state Umno, as part of efforts to recapture Kelantan, is planning to field Tengku Razaleigh in a state seat.

Part of the plan also involved having Tengku Razaleigh, who is fondly called Ku Li, appointed the mentri besar.

However, several state Umno insiders expressed doubt that the 71-year-old Kelantan prince would contest at state level, believing that he would prefer to be at federal level.

“It's belittling. Perhaps, it is a spin from the Opposition to confuse Umno members here. Ku Li was once linked to the mentri besar's post but that was way back in 1969, when he contested a state seat,” said a source.

Tengku Razaleigh said candidates for the general election should be nominated from the division level as they represented the machinery that would spearhead the campaigning efforts in each parliamentary constituency.

“We hope that the leadership will listen closely to the voices at the division level. The divisions play a role in determining the winning factor. Where I stand will also be determined by members from my own division,” the former finance minister said.

State Umno information head Datuk Md Alwi Che Ahmad said Tengku Razaleigh was correct in saying that the divisions could nominate the candidates as this was part of the party constitution.

“However, the party president (Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) will have the final say in determining the list of candidates,” Md Alwi said.

He also described claims that Tengku Razaleigh would contest in the state seat as speculation, adding that Umno should not “put the cart before the horse” here as the most important thing was winning back Kelantan first before deciding on who should be the mentri besar.

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