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Khamis, 10 Disember 2009

Is Ku Li the Right Guy for the Task?

by Syed Zahar

There’s a lot of concern over the current state of affairs surrounding Kelantan’s oil royalty issue and there’s more sizzle to the mix recently when Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah was appointed by PKR to head a caucus to resolve the dispute. Is he the best person for this undertaking?

Former finance minister and BN MP for Gua Musang Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah
The former finance minister and BN MP for Gua Musang was selected for the task after a short discussion with Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, PAS vice president Salahuddin Ayub, PKR strategic director Tian Chua and election director Saifuddin Nasution on the issue at the MPs’ lounge. Ever since this meeting Ku Li seems to come across as a sympathiser to the Opposition or, more so, perhaps, his home state. The statements he’s been openly giving in the press and his website itself shows his inclination towards Kelantan as well as the rest of the country’s oil-producing states (Terengganu, Sarawak and Sabah) having rights to oil royalty.Ku Li’s standpoint is clearly opposed by UMNO, namely that of Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, who had insisted that Kelantan had no right to ask for oil royalty. Nazri's argument was that no petroleum was produced in the state’s waters within three nautical miles of the coastal line. On that note, there was even talk of a proposed oil and gas pipeline to land in Songkhla in Southern Thailand instead of Bachok, Kelantan in the making which would further bypass the state in developing its petroleum industry .Ku Li countered Nazri’s argument by stating that oil royalty is a constitutional right of the people, regardless of whether is it found on shore or off shore. He believes the agreement that was signed between the states and Petronas assures that the states where oil is found, whether on shore or off shore, will benefit from such a find.What augmented UMNO’s aggravation further was Ku Li's acknowledgement of the Opposition in rebuking the Federal Government labelling the oil payout to Kelantan as wang ehsan (goodwill payment) saying that there’s no such thing as ‘goodwill payment’ because “oil is the right of the people and it’s not for the Federal Government to distribute as a largess.” This means more is at stake here as the BN government may lose more of their oil earnings than expected if they were to lose in this dispute.It’s hard to doubt the man who drafted the Petroleum Development Act 1974 himself when he was Finance Minister and Petronas chairman back then. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin has expressed his concern over Ku Li being the person chosen to head the caucus forewarning the latter with verging cautionary statements in the press. Of course, the government would be a little jittery seeing Ku Li appearing chummy with PKR leaders. This is a senior politician and former cabinet member with high post who’s kept a very low profile since his Semangat 46 stint (or should I say stunt) back in 80s.As far as the Opposition is concerned, Ku Li is definitely the perfect guy for this job. But will this new-found attention and authority have a bearing on the repositioning of Ku Li’s political career? Will he be the righteous mediator who creates the middle path between the government and Opposition or is he more likely to make a pact with PKR and be their most valuable instrument within UMNO/BN? It all depends on the turn of events in the following meetings involving leaders of the government and Opposition (PAS vice president and chairman of the State Committee on Petroleum Datuk Husam Musa has officially requested a meeting with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on the demand of Kelantan’s oil royalty). In the meantime, as far as UMNO is concerned, all eyes and ears are on Ku Li.- malaysiainsider

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