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Monday October 19, 2009

Ageing Ku Li gives up on Umno top post

KUALA LUMPUR: After three decades of mounting challenges for the Umno presidency, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah has decided to give up the fight finally.

“I am too old. Too old,” he said when asked at the sidelines of the recent Umno special general assembly on whether he would consider contesting for the post with the quota system now abolished.

“I think it is time to give a younger person a chance,” he said.

In demand: Tengku Razaleigh authographing the text of his speech at a lecture organised by the Perak Academy early this month.

However, the Kelantan prince will continue to be an active political commentator, providing insights into history as well as constructive criticism of both Barisan Nasional and the Opposition.

At the age of 72, he is the longest serving parliamentarian and Umno divisional leader but Tengku Razaleigh is likely to be featured in the annals of Umno history as the “nearly man.”

He came within a whisker of becoming party president at the infamous 1987 party elections, which eventually saw the party de-registered by the courts and the imposition of a quota system.

Tengku Razaleigh had also mooted a campaign in the recent party elections to contest the presidency against both Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and current president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He could only muster one nomination which was from his own Gua Musang Umno division.

The quota system was introduced to rein in excessive jostling for posts besides preventing the party from being taken to courts but instead, some exploited the loopholes for their own benefits and gave rise to the Umno divisional heads to become “warlords”.

Known as a “gentleman politician”, Tengku Razaleigh is someone who enjoyed ties with the who’s who among the nations politicians and headed Semangat 46, a splinter of the original Umno which broke up in 1987.

“I am a loyalist but if Umno does not heed the change for structural changes, I may reconsider (about the prospects of joining another party),” he added.