Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s stature is respected by both the Malays and the non-Malays but for him to take over as the opposition leader is most unlikely.Political analysts while admitting that Tengku Razaleigh (Ku Li ) is the one man who has the credibility and respect to weld the opposition parties together, say it may however never materialise.This speculation was started a few days ago by Independent MP Zahrain Mohamed Hashim of Bayan Baru.
He told Utusan Malaysia that the Pakatan leadership met Ku Li to convince him to head the opposition coalition for fear that Anwar Ibrahim may be jailed for sodomy.
“To even think of that… it’s not there yet. It is highly speculative at the moment but many things have to be in the right place.
“There have been rumours about Ku Li leaving Umno for a few years now but that has never taken place and he has stayed on. It will require something really dramatic for him to want to leave,” said Ooi Kee Beng, co-ordinator of Malaysia study programme at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
“Pakatan will also need to allow Ku Li to assume that position. There are so many other factors like Ku Li’s age for one,” he added of the politician who is in his seventies.
“We must also remember that for this to materialise, Anwar needs to be out of the ‘race’ legally,” he said.
However, Ooi added that Ku Li’s name is being bandied about as the Gua Musang MP was a Malay leader who was broadly acceptable by Malays and the non-Malays.
“PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang still requires a lot support. Ku Li can fill in the gap. He is someone of stature and moral standing and respected by Malaysians. He also has a record of being a competent statesman,” he said.
Prof James Chin of Monash University said that the idea is “crazy” but admitted that Ku Li is one of the few politicians in the political scene capable of holding the opposition together.
“There are very few politicians in the Malaysian political landscape that can bring together DAP, PAS and PKR. Ku Li is one of the the few,” he said.
“He can be brought in to hold Pakatan together if Anwar is jailed. But I think all of this is just in anticipation of the election and thus people are pushing for this crazy idea,” he added.
Chin also shared Ooi’s sentiment saying that Ku Li’s political skills are “not questionable” but stressed that the switch is unlikely.
UiTM Assoc Prof Shaharuddin Baharuddin also brushed aside any such possibility because Ku Li is someone who “plays it safe”.
“Although he is a politician on par with Dr Mahathir (Mohamad), he is someone who likes to play it safe,” he said.
He also recalled that Umno once considered Ku Li as a replacement to former premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, however that did not materialise.
He said Umno will be undermined if they lose Ku Li to the opposition.
“Ku Li is a giant, like Lim Kit Siang, Anwar, Mahathir. If Ku Li does leave, then it will undermine Umno and Najib will have to face another giant. I don’t think he can face so many giants,” he added.
Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali is also confident that Ku Li will not accept the offer from the opposition.
Describing the Umno veteran as a wise statesman, he said the Kelantan prince will not falll into this political trap.
Ibrahim said if Pakatan was sincere, it should have made the offer earlier and not wait until Anwar is slapped with a sodomy charge.
“I know this effort (to rope in Ku Li) has been going on, but I am confident he won’t take up the offer. He (Ku Li) once told me that he is a Muslim, and his party is Umno,” he added.