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Mahathir preferred me to Ku Li as I was ‘dumb’ politician, says Musa Hitam
Published on: Tuesday, May 21, 2024
By: FMT, Elill Easwaran
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Mahathir preferred me to Ku Li as I was ‘dumb’ politician, says Musa Hitam
Musa Hitam (centre) with Tengku Razaleign Hamzah at the launch of the book “Ku Li: Memoir 205” today. Joining them is the author Zinitulniza Abdul Kadir.
Kuala Lumpur: Former deputy prime minister Musa Hitam said Dr Mahathir Mohamad preferred him over Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah as his deputy because Musa was a “dumb” politician.

Speaking at the launch of the book “Ku Li: Memoir 205”, Musa described Tengku Razaleigh, commonly known as Ku Li, as former prime minister Mahathir’s “biggest problem” and “immediate threat” to his position.

“For Mahathir, between me and Tengku Razaleigh… I was a better choice (as deputy prime minister) because I was dumb and I didn’t have much money,” Musa said.

“In my opinion, if history was different, there is no doubt in my mind that Tengku Razaleigh would have been a prime minister.”

Tengku Razaleigh was the finance minister from 1976 to 1984 and helmed the trade and industry ministry from 1984 to 1987. Mahathir was prime minister from 1981 to 2003, while Musa was his deputy from 1981 to 1986.

The relationship between Tengku Razaleigh and Mahathir soured in the 1980s, and culminated with the former challenging Mahathir for the Umno presidency in 1987. This led to an open split in the Malay party.

In 1989, Tengku Razaleigh co-founded the now defunct Semangat 46, which was formed as a splinter of Umno. However, in 1996, he disbanded Semangat 46 and re-joined Umno.

Tengku Razaleigh was the nation’s longest-serving MP until he lost the Gua Musang seat by a razor-thin margin of 163 votes to Perikatan Nasional’s Azizi Abu Naim in the last general election (GE15) in November 2022.

Asked why he did not go against Mahathir for Umno’s top post, Musa said: “I was being realistic. I did not have the cash to compete against him.

“The issue of money in politics is the biggest challenge for any politician.”

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