Ku Li is BN’s Safest Bet in Galas

by Al Jafree Md Yusop, The Malaysian Digest  

Galas parliamentary seat is vacant following the passing of its State Assemblyman Chek Hashim Sulaiman on September due to colon cancer. The late Chek Hashim of PAS had won the seat in the 2008 general election by beating Umno’s Mohd Saufi Deraman by a majority of 646 votes.

According to the last electoral roll, there are 10,330 voters in the constituency, with 65.4 percent Malays, 22.3 percent Chinese, 10.5 percent Orang Asli and 1.8 percent Indians.

At the end of last month, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had announced the appointment of Tengku Razaleigh as the Barisan Nasional (BN) election director for the by-election, saying the Gua Musang MP was the most experienced and influential among the rest of the potential BN candidates.

Muhyiddin had also hinted that Tengku Razaleigh who is more affectionately as Ku Li is the most suitable individual to be fielded as the BN candidate as he is well-respected by the constituents of Galas.

BN will only be naming its candidate on Oct 24 though many expect the party to field Ku Li anyway as he is the safe bet for he is a political figure to be reckoned with in the state of Kelantan.

Ku Li is no ordinary MP.  He has been an MP in Kelantan since 1969 and has always been one of Umno’s most vocal internal critics. He first became state assemblyman for Hulu Kelantan Barat in 1969 and then member of parliament for Hulu Kelantan since 1974. Hulu Kelantan was renamed Gua Musang in the 1986 general election.

Ku Li then, on October 1 on his Twitter postings said that he had yet to make any decision on his role in the Galas by-election. He was not in the country at that time. According to him, he is yet to say yes or no and will only clarify once he is back in Malaysia.

Finally on October 9, upon his return to the country, Ku Li announced he has agreed to be the BN election director for the Galas state by-election. However, the question of him being the BN candidate in the by-election did not arise as he would have to first meet with Prime Minister and BN chairman Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. Ku Li then said his appointment as the BN election director for the by-election reflected his responsibilities as an Umno member and head of the Gua Musang Umno Division for almost 50 years as well as his role as the member of parliament for Gua Musang.

Meanwhile, PAS had alleged that Umno was trying to destroy Tengku Razaleigh’s political career by involving him directly in the by-election. Replying to a question on the matter, Tengku Razaleigh said that was the view of PAS and he respected it.

Asked about the alleged attempts by PAS to manipulate the issue of the Kelantan oil royalty, Tengku Razaleigh said the matter was subjudice as the PAS government in Kelantan had referred it to the courts.

Finally on the October 11, Najib officially handed the appointment letter for the role of Galas Election Director to Ku Li at the parliament building.

As to whether Ku Li will be the BN candidate for the by-election, we will only know the answer on the October 24. But one thing for sure is the chances and confidence in PAS retaining the seat is curtailed after Ku Li was appointed as BN election director.