Has Tengku Razaleigh been put in a spot? The BN MP or Umno division head for the area would ordinarily be expected to play a pivotal role in his party’s campaign.
The Kelantan state assembly seat of Galas falls smack within his Gua Musang parliamentary constituency. But Ku Li is no ordinary MP. He has been one of Umno’s most vocal internal critics.
His relatively more progressive and inclusive statements of late stand in sharp contrast to the ethno-nationalist rhetoric of the Umno mainstream. And this has often put him at the fringes of the party since his return to Umno.
This by-election could put him in an awkward position. Muhyiddin has already expressed hope that Ku Li will help to ensure an Umno win.
In the last election in 2008, Pas snatched the seat from the BN by a 646-vote majority. That turned around the previous Umno majority of 1,729 in 2004.
Lying with Galas is a logging township with kampungs, Orang Asli settlements and Felda schemes. From a national perspective, the latter two communities have expressed concern over native customary right lands and the way Felda is being run respectively.
Umno surrounded by the spectre of Perkasa’s chauvinist rhetoric will also be fighting an uphill battle in this constituency, which has a sizeable presence of minorities. Not only Ku Li, but also MCA and Gerakan would be in an uncomfortable position.
Time to put your cards on the table, Ku Li, and make a stand for what you really believe in.