KUALA LUMPUR: The country’s longest serving lawmaker, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah today said, he will always put the interest of his voters first, even before that of his party, Umno, of which he has been a member for 54 years.
“This is what the oath taken in the Dewan Rakyat is all about. Undoubtedly, my duty to the nation in upholding the constitution comes first, as it must be for Umno,” he said.
The Gua Musang MP said he will uphold the Federal Constitution in his capacity as a lawmaker, despite being a member of the Malay party.
“As an MP, I represent my voters, the people whose interest I have sworn to protect through the Parliamentary oath,” he said at the launch of the book, ‘The End of Umno? Essays on Malaysia’s Dominant Party’ at a private club here.
Razaleigh, or Ku Li as he is popularly known, said he had been a loyal servant of Umno for 54 years and it made more sense to remain so to be useful to the party for the good of Malaysia.
“However, I will not allow this to interfere with my position as a member of the Dewan Rakyat,” said Razaleigh who has been MP for the constituency since 1974.
He said for the party to be relevant, Umno must accept this and stay true to the supremacy of the constitution.
“It therefore follows, for instance , that national policies mut be addressed and decisions made by the Dewan Rakyat are not pre-empted by say, the party’s supreme council” he added.
Razaleigh, who formed Semangat 46 after the 1987 divisive Umno election that later led to it being declared unlawful, said as a politician, he had always been a member of the Malay party.
“Detractors will draw public attention to Semangat 46. They will conveniently forget to tell you that my followers and friends from Umno never left but were blocked from reuniting with the others in the period following the post-Umno debacle of 1987.
“Among those were leaders like (former prime ministers) Tunku (Abdul Rahman) and Tun Hussein Onn,” he added.
Razleigh joined Umno in 1962 and was the party’s treasurer and an Umno vice-president. He unsuccessfully challenged Dr Mahathir Mohamad for the party’s top post.
He returned to join Umno Baru in 1996 after disbanding Semangat 46 in the name of Malay unity.