The prince and the battle for Umno’s leadership

PETALING JAYA: It’s a story about a Kelantan prince and his chequered career in politics.

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who is making a second bid for the Umno presidency after 31 years, has been in politics since 1962.

In 1987, he was the man at the centre of one of Umno’s most stormy chapters when he led a faction with Tun Musa Hitam and challenged then president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for the top post.

Dr Mahathir managed to retain his position but Razaleigh’s displeasure with the outcome led to a court case. A year later, Umno was declared unlawful.

Dr Mahathir went on to form Umno Baru with the remains of the disbanded party.

Razaleigh struck out on his own and started Semangat 46 on the proposal of Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra to continue Umno’s original aspirations.

From 1990 to 1996 he represented Semangat 46 in the Dewan Rakyat as the Gua Musang MP, but later disbanded Semangat 46 and rejoined Umno.

In 1999, he contested the general election in Gua Musang on a Barisan Nasional ticket and was re-elected.

Razaleigh first won the Gua Musang seat (then known as Ulu Kelantan) in 1974. He has retained the seat 10 times since.

Born in Kota Baru in 1937, Razaleigh pursued his higher education in Britain and returned to manage the family business. But the political calling proved too strong.

He joined Umno in 1962, and served as Kelantan Umno liaison committee secretary until 1966 when he was made deputy chairman.

Razaleigh’s political career took off when he started getting recognition for his vast knowledge of finance and economics.

He was called in to assist leaders in launching several initiatives to benefit Malaysia’s economic growth and helped increase trade with China, among others.

In 1974, he was appointed Petronas chairman and chief executive by then Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.

Two years later, when Tun Hussein Onn took over as the Prime Minister after Razak’s death, Razaleigh was appointed Finance Minister as well as chairman of Asian Development Bank.

Ku Li, as Razaleigh is fondly known, has also served as International Trade and Industry Minister.

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Politics , tengku razaleigh