It must have been difficult for Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah to criticize his own party, which has ruled the country for 57 years. He has been with Umno since he took up active politics in the early sixties, when he was still in his early twenties.
He went through rough times to promote Umno in Kelantan, when it was looked upon with contempt in the state. Shouldering the task that Umno gave to him, he did it all almost alone, with infrequent help from a few federal leaders.
He used to travel up and down by river boat by day and night to Ulu Kelantan (now Gua Musang) just to open up one Umno branch, with small numbers turning up to sign the membership forms. Through his efforts, Umno became a party of significance in Kelantan. It even ruled the state for 12 years until 1990, when PAS made a comeback.
He was largely responsible for making Malays accept the banking system, which many of them thought was sinful to subscribe to. He undertook the task of setting up Bank Bumiputra to meet this challenge. At the age of 28, he was already set for the mission to give his life and soul to the people and he managed, within 15 years, to position Bank Bumiputra among the top 300 banks in the world in terms of deposits and international money market activities.
Technocrat that he is, he dedicated his talents to the tasks assigned to him by Prime Minister Abdul Razak Hussein and, after the latter’s death, Hussein Onn. He was the founder or one of the founders of Pernas, Petronas, Bank Islam, Koop Bersatu and numerous other institutions that contributed to the vibrancy of national development.
Neither was he a stranger to the rest of the world, which recognised him as a man of high stature and integrity. He was the first non-American elected to the revered position of Chairman of the World Bank. He also served as chairman of the International Monetary Fund, the Islamic Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank.
Unfortunately, his immense contributions to the nation caused a lot of discomposure and discomfiture among ambitious but weak leaders in Umno, who got together to circumvent him. He was too advanced for them and too much ahead in nearly every turf and arena. That killed him politically.
The ill-bred leaders in Umno did everything to ostracise him politically. An ungentlemanly game was played against this gentleman and there was no way he could win against dirty tricks and crooked intrigues. Tengku Razaliegh was handicapped by his gentleman’s attributes. According to an article in Time Magazine, “If only this prince was a little bit less of a gentleman, he would have been the Prime Minister a long time ago.”
For more than two decades, this prince has been on the sidelines watching the shenanigans of the ruling government and looking on in dismay as Umno leaders conspire against their own people with their plunder of the nation’s resources. Umno has become nothing less and nothing more than an exclusive club for the elite of the party. The ordinary members are just there to support the members of the elite without question.
Strongman Najib is surrounded by rent seekers who will continue to bleed our coffers till they run dry. If there are still any sane people in Umno and BN, they have to do something to bring about real transformation or be routed in the next general election.
As for the rest of us Malaysians, let us stop dreaming that any of the political parties we have can bring about the change we need. Every one of them has all kinds of poison running through their veins that will kill the nation. This time around, let’s choose a person who is astute and judicious enough to lead us in curing our country of its ills and pave a new, brightly lit path to the future.
Tengku Razaleigh is the best replacement for Najib, as he is the only living soul who has proven not only his patriotism but also his abilities as a technocrat and planner. Umno, BN and the opposition should forget the bitter past and unite under him for the sake of the nation’s future.