AMANAH’S recruitment of an uncle of Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V is believed to be the trigger element behind the sudden revocation of the Datukships of two top Amanah leaders from Kelantan.
Amanah leaders had allegedly taken Tengku Muhammad Petra on their ceramah rounds after he joined the party in September 2016.
During one ceramah, Amanah vice-president Husam Musa, one of those whose Datukship was revoked, had introduced Tengku Muhammad as “bapa saudara Yang di-Pertuan Agong” or the uncle of the King.
This had apparently angered the Kelantan palace, which perceived it as a move to ride on the palace’s name and prestige.
Tengku Muhammad is the younger brother of the King’s father Sultan Ismail Petra.
However, Kelantan Amanah chairman Wan Abdul Rahim Wan Abdullah denied that his party had tried to capitalise on the royal connection.
He claimed that Tengku Muhammad, who is in his 50s, appeared only twice on the Amanah stage last year – once in Pasir Mas alongside Amanah president Mohamed Sabu and another time in Rantau Panjang with Husam.
“After that, we realised that we cannot take the opportunity to push him forward.
“It is good enough that he is our member. We did not capitalise on his royal status or bring him around,” said Wan Abdul Rahim, who was also stripped of his Datukship.
Wan Abdul Rahim, a former MP and assemblyman, said he had also invited Tengku Muhammad to speak at a ceramah near Ketereh, but the latter did not show up.
He denied recruiting the royal figure and said Tengku Muhammad was invited to join by one of his own friends.
“I was there at a small gathering at his friend’s house when he announced that he was joining us,” said Wan Abdul Rahim.
A Kelantan insider suggested that the palace action was a warning to Amanah leaders not to exploit or use royal personalities in their politics.
According to the insider, the royal discomfit also has to do with the fact that Tengku Muhammad was allegedly linked to a political plot in the early 1990s to undermine the Kelantan throne, which was then held by the King’s father, Sultan Ismail.
The plot, which made headline news for months, involved backing Tengku Ibrahim Petra to claim the Kelantan throne.
Tengku Ibrahim Petra, now in his 60s, is another uncle of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and comes from an accomplished family – his father Tengku Indra Petra was a former MP and ambassador to Japan.
Tengku Muhammad, who used to be an educator, was known to have supported the plot.
But the mastermind behind the plot was perceived to be none other than Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was then prime minister.
As such, the alarm bells in the palace went off after Dr Mahathir was named Pakatan Harapan’s prime minister nominee.
Suddenly, all those old, familiar memories came flooding back.
It may explain why the palace has also moved to strip Dr Mahathir of his Darjah Kerabat Al-Yunusi (DK) award.
The plot to put Tengku Ibrahim Petra on the Kelantan throne was sparked off by the then stand-off between Dr Mahathir and the Malay Rulers, who were up in arms against the then prime minister’s bid to amend the Constitution to curb their powers.
The then Sultan of Kelantan was an adamant opponent of Dr Mahathir’s move and the state was punished over issues pertaining to oil royalty, allocations for water treatment as well as the relocation of the gas refinery plant to Songkhla, Thailand, instead of Kelantan.
Kelantan had just fallen to PAS in 1990 and the stage was ripe for a battle royale between the then prime minister and the Kelantan royalty/PAS government.
The Federal Government pulled everything out of the hat to embarrass the Kelantan palace and government.
The situation was so dire at one point that the Proton Saga was barred from entering the palace gates.
Rightly or wrongly, Dr Mahathir was seen to be the brains behind the plot against the Kelantan palace.
It was like a Malay movie and the joke then was that Dr Mahathir was the producer, Tan Sri Annuar Musa – then the Kelantan Umno chief – was the director and Tengku Ibrahim Petra the action hero.
The Kelantan crisis coloured Dr Mahathir’s reputation among an entire generation of Kelantanese who felt that he used the instruments of state to punish them, their Sultan and their state government.
The Kelantan royals have not quite forgiven Dr Mahathir or Annuar for what is known as the “black spot” in the state’s history.
They are still deeply suspicious of Dr Mahathir, especially now that he is claiming that Pakatan will form the next government and he will be the prime minister.
Dr Mahathir took away a chunk of the powers of the Malay Rulers.
It is likely they do not relish the idea of another round of Dr Mahathir and what he could do to them if he becomes prime minister again.