Monday, September 22, 2008

Dialogue with Ku Li

Monday, September 22, 2008
Dialogue with Ku Li

Last week, I received an invitation to attend a dialogue session with another prime minister in-waiting, Tengku Razaleigh. He was best remembered in the 1987 tussle with Dr Mahathir. Ku Li, as he is fondly known, lost by a whisker - 43 votes. We went to his palatial house in Jalan Langgak Golf yesterday.

It was the start of Mahathir's relentless effort to ensure he will not be challenged again in the party. In the process, Mahathir muzzled the judiciary, tamed his opponents in BN especially UMNO, centralised power in the PMship and others. It can be argued that it was the start of the end of BN and UMNO. UMNO leadership of BN became hegemonic. UMNO's political culture took a complete change for the worse.

Ku Li in the dialogue mentioned that UMNO needs to free up and democratise especially in its leadership selection process. He mentioned that the party must find ways to attract younger members.

Ku Li openly admitted the main problem of this government, its inability to treat people fairly and in accordance to the law. He praised Zaid Ibrahim's principled stand on ISA and mentioned that it was supposed to be a collective decision of the cabinet. Zaid's personal stand on this issue merits his resignation. (I wonder why 4 MCA ministers are still there for, since they disagreed with the use of ISA?).

He said the selection persecution by authorities is also evident in UMNO related matters such as corruption and abuse of power. As a result, the system has broken down.

If elected as the president of UMNO, he vows to change the party and make it more rule based. He promised to weed out money politics.

He outlined three key important issues:

1) Racial/National unity

2) Economy health and equitable sharing of wealth

3) Sabah & Sarawak issues

He wants his government to focus on erradicating abuse of power and corruption. His government must mean business not fun.

Well said, Ku Li. But my question to him was not well tackled. I asked how is he going to approach a surging PR led by Anwar Ibrahim. He shrugged off my comment by asking, "Is the opposition strong?"

If any PM in-waiting including Najib thinks he can manage to heal the rifts in this country without working with the opposition, I believe the leader is in a great denial syndrome. Ku Li said he met Anwar and he has no problem with him.

Second, he did not oppose the NEP. In fact, he fought Dr M because the latter wanted to remove the policy. Ku Li admitted the abuses of NEP for individual gains. I told him the language used to promote the policy has turned it into something racial and unacceptable. Unless this policy is changed, it will be difficult to be accepted by all Malaysians.

Third, he did not oppose the ISA. He is against the way the policy was being manipulated and used to silence political opponents. I thought this is not a very progressive stand. He should look at other legal alternatives which are less prone to manipulation by the powers that be.

I was hoping more from this veteran politician. But I was left a bit disappointed when he said "I can't tell you more about my plan. " "You should elect me first as the president then I will let you know."

He should know Malaysians no longer sign any blank cheque. We should not.
Posted by Khoo Kay Peng at 3:49 PM 0 comments

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