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By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
KUALA LUMPUR, March 3 – Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah has dared Umno to gag its members over the Kelantan oil royalty issue, sarcastically noting they might as well silence all talk about former prime ministers and party presidents Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and Tun Hussein Onn who had fought for such rights for the Malay heartland.
The veteran Umno leader popularly known as Ku Li has openly clashed with his party over the issue, prompting vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein to announce a gag order for statements on the oil royalty matter that could affect the party’s image.
The Kelantan prince, who is scheduled to speak about the issue at several events in March, pointed out that Umno, which he pointedly called “Umno Baru”, should consider the late Abdul Razak as a “traitor” for asking him to formulate the Petroleum Development Act 1974 which ensured states like Kelantan get 5 per cent oil royalty.
“I think Umno should apply this gag order properly, and from today onwards also stop altogether talking about Allaryaham Tun Razak. Umno Baru would consider him a traitor. For it was he who ordered me to design the Petroleum Development Act in such a way that the Malay heartland states of Kelantan, Terengganu, Johor and especially his beloved Pahang, would benefit directly from offshore oil beyond 3 nautical miles through the mechanism of 5 per cent cash payments made directly to the state consolidated fund,” Tengku Razaleigh said in an email to The Malaysian Insider following Hishammuddin’s remarks.
“What a troublemaker he was,” he added, referring to Abdul Razak, the second prime minister, who is father to current prime minister Datuk Seri Najib and uncle to Hishammuddin, whose father is Hussein, the third prime minister.
“It is this same payment, that Umno Baru insists, through every government channel, that Kelantan and Terengganu have no right to receive, on the grounds that the oil is found beyond 3 nautical miles offshore,” the Gua Musang MP said.
The founding Petronas chairman has insisted that all oil-producing states are entitled to the cash payments but the Barisan Nasional federal government has opted to give RM 20 million in goodwill payments through federal agencies.
Hishammuddin said yesterday Umno was compiling views from the grassroots and had silenced its members from issuing statements that could damage the party’s image.
“In this matter, the party’s supreme council has already given its clear stand. If the members do not fully understand the issue, they can use existing channels to seek explanations. Making sensational statements that can destroy the party’s image is, even in the past, something that we do not allow,” the Home Minister said when commenting on Kelantan’s move to take the issue to court.
Tengku Razaleigh, who asked for his statement to be published in full, also accused his party of absconding with the money meant for the poor Malay folk of the East Coast over the years.
“Naively Tun Razak did not forsee that Umno Baru would have better uses for this money than the impoverished Malay folk of the East Coast.
“More than RM 20 billion has been paid out in Terengganu’s name over the years, yet the people of Terengganu remain impoverished because the money has not gone to them. They are expected to console themselves watching millionaires frolic in yachts and admiring a crystal mosque they cannot pray in,” he added, referring to the Monsoon Cup sailing regatta and the Islamic Civilisation Park in Pulau Duyong in Kuala Terengganu.
Tengku Razaleigh noted that former party leaders were more scrupulous and honest with money for the people.
“We should also put a gag order on speaking about the late Hussein Onn. He at least was a man of principle, and an absolute enemy of corruption and the abuse of power.
“He was such a threat to Umno Baru that he, like the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, was shut out from it, and died outside the party,” said the outspoken leader who has been critical of his own party for failing to deliver the the rights guaranteed to the people of Kelantan under the Petroleum Development Act.
The PAS-controlled Kelantan state assembly on Monday made a landmark vote when three out of six Barisan Nasional assemblymen, unanimously agreed with the assembly to take the state’s oil royalty claims against Petronas to court.
The trio are state opposition leader Datuk Mohd Alwi Che Ahmad (BN-Kok Lanas), Mat Yusof Abdul Ghani (BN–Nenggiri) and Datuk Abdul Rashid Aziz (BN–Kuala Balah).
However, they later withdrew their vote on the pretext that the motion had been amended.
Several Umno supreme councillors had recently questioned Tengku Razaleigh’s apparent “immunity” in discussing the controversial issue and had urged the leadership to take action.
Najib, the Umno president, had said he would ask the members to decide what should be done about the maverick politician’s public outbursts.
Tengku Razaleigh had led Semangat 46, after the old Umno was deregistered in 1988 following his challenge for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s presidency. He also challenged Najib for the Umno presidency but failed to qualify, having received just one nomination.
He has also continued to express loyalty to the party while saying he is ready for any hearing or punishment.
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