Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah Befits The Seat Of Prime Minister Of Malaysia. He holds the know alls of Politics Internationally & locally and he holds much experience and brilliance. He was once The youngest Finance Minister in Southeast Asia and a remarkable one too! Most Importantly, He has the support of most Malaysians from every race, creed, religion and background.
The third force in Malaysian politics is getting more crowded as they vie to be the kingmaker in the event of a hung Parliament but some, like Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, may be eyeing the Prime Minister's post.
TENGKU Razaleigh Hamzah was all dressed up for what seemed like a normal press conference. For someone who once admitted that he is colour blind, he was a picture of immaculate grooming.
Actually, he could have been mistaken for a prosperous banker or, dare we say, a Prime Minister-in-waiting?
The Kelantan royal politician had called the press conference to announce that Angkatan Amanah Merdeka, the NGO headed by him, was now open for business as it has been officially registered.
Amanah has joined a crowded field of what has become known as the “third force” in Malaysian politics, except that Tengku Razaleigh has still got one foot in Umno.
The third force groups range from small political parties like Parti Cinta Malaysia and kita, headed by millionaire lawyer Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, to civil society groups like the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) headed by Haris Ibrahim. Even Perkasa is a third force group in its own right.
At one level, these groups are signalling there is a niche out there for those who have rejected the old politics of Barisan Nasional but have not completely bought into the so-called new politics of Pakatan Rakyat.
At another level, they are essentially politicians aspiring to be the “king-maker” in the event of a hung Parliament in the next general election.
“Each group comes to the table with a slightly different political message to sell,” said political analyst and UCSI academic Dr Ong Kian Ming.
MCLM, said Dr Ong, comprises pro-Pakatan activists and intellectuals who aim to address the issue of poor quality of candidates in Pakatan, especially from PKR.
KITA, on its part, has emerged as the only Malay-led party that has stood up for equal rights among all Malaysians and is not afraid to say it openly. It has even spoken up for religious conversions.
As Dr Ong noted, some of these groups are looking for a platform and voice, some comprise individuals who are looking for political survival while a few are hoping to cash out at the right time.
“On their own, they cannot knock out the established parties but they can cause a stomachache or headache,” said publisher Datuk A. Kadir Jasin.
Some of the third force groups are having headaches of their own. For instance, kita, which was launched with a big bang earlier this year is embroiled in an internal feud even before it can really take off.
MCLM caused a stir when it was launched from London with the support of blogger-in-exile Raja Petra Kamarudin.
It has since nominated the well-known human rights lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar and the less-known dentist Dr Nedunchelian Vengu to run in the general election.
The next general election is going to be fierce and there will be a wild scramble to be candidates.
Pakatan is going to have as big and as ugly a headache as the Barisan in managing people fighting to be candidates.
Amanah, insisted its vice-president Wan Saiful Wan Jan, is strictly a civil society body.
“It is not like MCLM or kita nor is it about election candidates or where they should run. It's about a group of people who want to make a difference,” he said.
Nevertheless, Tengku Razaleigh's claim that he needs a new platform to speak because Umno restricts him does not really add up.
It is indeed a selective process to be picked to speak at the Umno general assembly but over and above that annual event, no one has been able to stop Tengku Razaleigh from speaking his mind and he has caused ripples with many of his comments.
He has a blog and journalists rush to his Langgak Golf “White House” each time he schedules a press conference.
In fact, he makes news because he is such a famous Umno face, he says things other Umno leaders would not say.
Speaking as the head of yet another NGO would not have the same impact. In the meantime, the perception that he is positioning himself for the Prime Minister post will persist. Actually, he is more experienced and accomplished than the other aspiring candidates, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Datuk Seri Hadi Awang put together.
According to a Pakatan Rakyat insider, he could have been the catalyst had he come on board Anwar's Sept 16 scheme in 2008.
He and Anwar met several times in the days leading up to Sept 16 but nothing happened because they simply did not have the numbers and even if they did, they would have ended up fighting each other for the top post.
Tengku Razaleigh has missed the boat one time too many and he is now banking on his final boat.