Give it a rest Ku Li (and you take one too), says Utusan’s Awang Selamat

(TMI) – In a further sign that it remains an open question whether former Umno vice-president Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah (pic) will run against the Prime Minister for the party’s top post, an Umno-backed Sunday newspaper got stuck into him today.

Ku Li, as Tengku Razaleigh is popularly known, is just too long in the tooth for the job and should retire, suggested the Awang Selamat column in Mingguan Malaysia.

Ku Li is 76 years old. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is 60 years old.

By convention, the Umno president is also the Prime Minister as the party is the backbone of the government.

The column endorsed Najib as the best choice to lead the party and the government because of a better performance in the recent general election compared to 2008.

Awang Selamat is the pseudonym for the collective voice of the paper’s editors, although the column is written as if it’s the voice of one person.

“I do not deny his leadership qualities and contributions but hope he will make a wise decision.  His age factor must be considered,” said Awang Selamat, referring to Ku Li.

The column pointedly added that leaders of Ku Li’s era like Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Tun Musa Hitam have retired from politics.

The editorial said the political landscape has also changed and Ku Li must realise his influence among the grassroots is not the same as in 1987. That is the year Ku Li challenged then-Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for the president’s post but lost by a 43-vote majority.

Ku Li later led a splinter party, Semangat 46. In the 1990 general election, he teamed up with PAS and DAP to challenge the Barisan Nasional.

Kelantan, which was in the hands of BN from 1978, fell into the hands of PAS and Semangat 46. BN has not regained the state since.

In the name of Malay unity, Semangat 46 was dissolved in 1996 and its members rejoined Umno.

But since his return to Umno, Ku Li has offered himself again and again for the top post – against Dr Mahathir (2000), Tun Abdullah Badawi (2004) and Najib (2009) but failed each time as he did not secure the minimum nomination required.