Friday, March 21, 2008

Mahathir throws weight behind Ku Li - Malaysian Insider 22 Mac

KUALA LUMPUR, March 22 -- Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday he supports the proposal by Gua Musang Member of Parliament Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah that Umno calls for an extraordinary general meeting on May 11.

He said the EGM was necessary to discuss the reasons that the Barisan Nasional (BN) led by Umno had lost the two-third majority and its defeat in 5 states in the recent general election.

He claimed that many people, including Umno members, had voted for the Opposition not because they supported the Opposition, but because they did not like the Umno leadersip.

"But they are afraid to voice their opinion," he told reporters after launching the book entitled "Management Astray: Resuscitating Ailing Organisations" written by the late Tan Sri Basir Ismail, here.

Asked whether he supported Tengku Razaleigh's intention to contest the Umno presidency to rehabilitate the party, Dr Mahathir said the question of who was going to contest should be discussed after the EGM. -- Bernama

Uphill task for Ku Li

He may be saying what many Umno members are feeling right now but it will be tough for Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah to get half the 210 Umno divisions to push for a special meeting on May 11 to discuss the party’s electoral performance.

The reason: Many of the state liaison chiefs are either in the cabinet, Mentris Besar or still in the power structure. These are the men who can influence how the divisions and branches vote on any issue. There is nothing for them to gain by rocking the ship at this point, even though some of them also share Ku Li’s belief that blame for Barisan Nasional’s reverses on March 8 should be laid at the door of the Prime Minister.

By allowing the special meeting to take place, they know that they may be giving Ku Li the momentum to challenge for the president’s position, and unwittingly give him the backdoor to the top of the Umno pole – a scenario which does not benefit many of the current political players.

Terengganu Umno chief Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said today that he did not think that the special meeting on May 11 was necessary. “Let us wait for the Umno general assembly. I believe that with the confidence placed in the prime minister by his deputy, Datuk Seri Najib, there will be no tussle for power in Umno,” he said.

He believed that the next Umno general assembly would endorse the leadership of Abdullah.

Even Wanita Umno chief Datuk Rafidah Aziz, though smarting from her relegation from the Cabinet, was in no mood to join forces with Ku Li. She said that the focus must be on making the party stronger. Now was not the time for anyone to take advantage of the situation, she said after chairing the Wanita Umno exco meeting today.

Ku Li is also not likely to get the support of Sabah’s Musa Aman, Selangor’s Muhammad Muhammad Taib, Johor’s Ghani Othman, Pahang’s Adnan Yaacob, Malacca’s Ali Rustam and Negeri Sembilan’s Mohammed Hassan.

This leaves him with the difficult task of persuading the rank and file of the party in each state to go against their masters and patrons.

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