KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 – Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s speech criticising Putrajaya will have little to no impact on Barisan Nasional (BN) as none of his remarks was new and the ruling coalition is too set in its own ways, analysts said, hours after the Kelantan prince urged his colleagues to put the people’s interests before the party. The internal dynamics within Umno would ensure that its lawmakers continued to serve their supporters first, just so that they could remain in power, Ibrahim Suffian , the director of independent pollster Merdeka Center.
“For Umno politicians, they are concerned not about the rakyat, but the party’s internal politics which involves keeping or attaining positions. And that entails making or keeping alliances in the party,” said Ibrahim. “So given that the general election is so far away, their main concern now is keeping party members happy, because it’s possible that party polls will come first before the election.” He said many leaders in Umno were beholden to those who had elected them to that position, so they would be in no hurry to make any big differences that may threaten the status quo.
Dr Lim Teck Ghee, the director of the Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI) said the speech by Tengku Razaleigh, fondly known as Ku Li, was “just a parliamentary speech” and would be treated as such both by BN and the government. “Change (within BN) doesn’t come from a speech, but public pressure. So I don’t think BN or the prime minister will be concerned,” said the analyst. “In fact I am sure the prime minister and BN are not unduly troubled by his speech. I will be surprised if there is any other BN parliamentarian who is going to support him and speak out publically.”
Dr Wong Chin Huat , a political analyst from think-tank Penang Institute, agreed, adding that no BN parliamentarian would dare to agree with Ku Li as they may be seen as mounting an attack against Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s administration. “Umno people would see it as a coordinated attack against Najib and will just ignore it. So I don’t think there will be any change in the government or MPs’ conduct, but this might strengthen public critics against Najib’s administration,” he said.
Debating the royal address yesterday, the Gua Musang MP urged his peers in the Dewan Rakyat to decide whether they would remember their pledge to serve the people, or give up their powers to forces outside of the Parliament by putting the party interests first. He also pressed ministers and MPs to declare their assets to avoid conflict of interest and promote good governance, and criticised the goods and services tax (GST) which will be rolled out next month. But analysts interviewed by The Malaysian Insider shrugged off his words as “too little, too late”, and pointed out that he was echoing Pakatan Rakyat MPs who had already raised those issues, to little success. “The issues he raised with the GST is something that people have been talking about a lot, so it’s a bit too late for him to question it,” said Ibrahim.
Lim said the government had already made up its mind on the GST and to defer it now, just because of Ku Li’s speech, would actually be worse for the country. “It’s all too little, too late on the issues he has raised, including what are GST funds meant for and the asset declaration. The opposition has raised similar concerns regularly in more direct and critical ways than he is presently doing in parliament.”n He said if the prime minister could ignore both Pakatan Rakyat and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s criticism over the GST, then the likelihood of him paying attention to Ku Li was small.