Ku Li by no means similar to "coolie"; for the latter means a labor man doing dirty jobs for the rich. Rather Ku Li refers to Tengku Razaliegh Hamzah, a Kelantanese prince who could have been the Malaysian Prime Minister and one time political foe of Tun Dr Mahathir.
Ku Li however proves to be a statesman and a political maverick in Malaysia and his homeland Kelantan.
By his influence and palace help (Ku Li used to be a member of Majlis Perajaan Kelantan until recently), he twisted the political landscape of Malaysia 20 years ago to enable the power sharing of Kelantan politic between the now defunct Semangat 46 and PAS.
His statesmanship and love for the people of Kelantan saw him putting their priority first and enable the wang ehsan to be distributed directly to the people of Kelantan.
The political foe saw this, and they are putting their top coin on BN winning the state's by election solely based on "Ku Li Factor" - as put forth by the view from Malaysian Insider
The Tengku Razaleigh factor
October 04, 2010OCT 4 — The upcoming Galas state seat by-election is interesting on many fronts. It was a seat won by PAS in the last general election though Umno won the Gua Musang parliamentary seat which encompasses Galas.
By many accounts winning the Gua Musang parliamentary seat has nothing to do with Umno but more due to it being the stronghold of its long-standing MP, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.
Who is this man known colloquially as Ku Li?
Well, if you read “Malaysian Maverick” written by Barry Wain which is actually about Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, you would know. Ku Li is an elder statesman in Malaysia who also, by many accounts, could have been PM of Malaysia.
A jovial, effervescent and decent man who has within him the institutional memory of this country, he really personifies all that was good in our founding fathers. Ask him about any of them, be it Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak, Tun Hussein, you name it, he was there at the time and can still give you a decent recollection of what they stood for.
He has a very Malay way of putting his objections to all the bad things that are happening to our nation. See him on YouTube under Mycitizen and you will get a flavour of the man. Our founding fathers were the generation that really sacrificed their wealth and wellbeing for this country and their views would be very similar to that of Ku Li’s today.
In fact, the irony of it all is although Ku Li sacrificed so much personally for Umno, it is the opposition that today have a greater appreciation for his integrity and intellect. They accept him as an elder statesman that they would love to have on their side.
It is only with the advent of this by-election that Umno through Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is reaching out publicly to Ku Li. The lukewarm response of the Umno leadership to Ku Li is perhaps of the fear that he could challenge the leadership in the party.
Lest we forget, he only lost by 43 votes to Dr Mahathir in the contest for president of Umno in 1987.
The upcoming by-election is not simply a question of whether Umno wins or loses the seat. Many other questions will arise from it which will be of national significance.
Will the direction Umno takes after this be more in line with those of Ku Li? Will PAS go easy in the campaign as it does not want to alienate Ku Li? Will PAS want to close the door on any possible co-operation with Umno?
Could there be a major role for Ku Li either in the current government or in bettering the ties between the BN and Pakatan?
When it comes to Ku Li, I think he will follow his own calling as he has done all his life, sometimes to his own political detriment. A gentleman politician is rare in this country but something we desperately need today.
Perhaps he will not rise up any further in the political arena as he is unwilling to soil his reputation, but his beliefs and thinking will transcend today, far into the future.
Ku Li calls a spade a spade and has credibility and gravitas. It would be a shame if the political parties on both sides of the divide do not tap him for the betterment of the nation.
In any event I am sure that we will be hearing more of Ku Li soon and if we were all to put on our non-partisan hats, we could actually listen to and absorb the message.
It is society that needs to be positively affected and it is not only the political parties that can do it but the messenger has to have the credibility for the message to be believed.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist