Wan Farid’s ties with Razali comes under scrutiny

By Adib Zalkapli, The Malaysian Insider

The Pas campaign for the key Kuala Terengganu vote is keeping Barisan Nasional (BN) on the defensive, forcing Umno candidate Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Salleh to deny he had, as division leader, sidelined the late Datuk Razali Ismail, whose death has forced this by-election.

"The fact remains that he was an MP and after the Umno delegates meeting where he did not win the vice chief post, I appointed him into the committee," said the Kuala Terengganu Umno chief at a press conference here today.

The Pas campaign has been actively trying to exploit an apparent division between the supporters of Razali and Wan Farid, in an attempt to sway the late MP's followers to vote for Pakatan Rakyat (PR) instead.

Wan Farid's remarks today follows Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi's plea the day before for party members to back the BN candidate, in an indication that all is not well in the campaign.

The BN candidate today gave a glowing account of Razali's track record as a two term MP, pointing out that Razali had been active in the party's division and had served the electorate well.

Wan Ahmad Farid denies any rift with the late Datuk Razali Ismail. – Picture by Choo Choy May


At the Kuala Terengganu Umno divisional elections last July, Razali ran for the vice chief post but lost to Wan Hisham Salleh, who is Wan Farid's brother.

Razali's defeat had caused uneasiness among his supporters in the party even after his death, and this issue has been exploited by Pas to get Umno members aligned to him to back the Pakatan Rakyat candidate Abdul Wahid Endut.

"It is not true to suggest in any way that Kuala Terengganu Umno had sidelined him. At the opening of the delegates' meeting I made it clear that it was a family contest," said Wan Farid.

"I feel happy that Pas keeps mentioning Datuk Razali, because if they really like him Mohamad Sabu shouldn't have contested," he added, referring to Pas's candidate in the March general election.

However Wan Farid admitted that the former state education director had set a very high benchmark as a BN rep.

"I have never been an elected representative, so I don't have a constituency. But I did set up a service centre since I became the division chief in 2004 to meet not only Umno members but also the people," said Wan Farid.

"Most people do not know this but my office had always been in close communication with Datuk Razali's office," he said.