By Leslie Lau
KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 — Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said tonight that as Allah was his witness, he had never engaged in vote buying as alleged by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in the latter’s autobiography out earlier this week.
The veteran Umno leader also accused his old foe Dr Mahathir of engaging in “political lying” in his recollection of what transpired during the contentious 1987 party polls.
“I never steal. I never cheat,” he said in Ipoh tonight when launching an unrelated book.
“Again, I am accused of bringing the party to court. I am also alleged to be involved in money politics during the 1987 party contest. I do not have that sort of money. I have no cronies. In fact, I am against money politics. As Allah is my witness, I have not done all those things. Yet I have always been returned every time I stood in Gua Musang.”
Dr Mahathir had written in his book that Tengku Razaleigh would have become prime minister if he was more patient.
The former prime minister also accused the Team B faction led by the Kelantan prince of a dirty campaign to unseat him as president in the fractious Umno elections of 1987, resulting in the High Court declaring Umno illegal.
“Had Tengku Razaleigh been more patient, he would probably have taken Tun Musa (Hitam)’s place as deputy prime minister and eventually become prime minister,” Dr Mahathir wrote in his book titled “A Doctor in the House: The Memoirs of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad”.
Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister claimed in the book that Tengku Razaleigh’s Team B had resorted to money politics in the campaign.
“We also heard that Team B spent about RM20 million on their campaign, with most of the money provided by Tengku Razaleigh himself,” he wrote.
“Voting had to be halted halfway for members to attend Friday congregational prayers, but Team B supporters used the interval to campaign. They were seen following targeted delegates to their hotels, even into the toilet, and I was told that a lot of money changed hands,” he said of the party polls that took place on April 24, 1987.
“They also circulated a photograph of me with a Chinese lady who they alleged was my Singaporean wife. In fact, she was the wife of an old university classmate, and the picture had been taken at their daughter’s wedding,” he added.
Responding tonight, Tengku Razaleigh also mocked Dr Mahathir’s book, calling it comedic.
“Political lying comes through the media and sometimes by writing so-called books of memoirs. One book was recently launched under a pseudo title called ‘Doctor in The House’.
“I say ‘pseudo’ because it is a copycat title of a famous British comedy film of the 1950s based on a novel by Richard Gordon. Perhaps it was deliberate, as it does reflect some comedianship, apart from political lying. The ‘Doctor in The House’ makes allegations against me which are not new,” said Tengku Razaleigh.
In the aftermath of the 1987 Umno elections, Tengku Razaleigh was not willing to accept defeat and challenged the results in court on the grounds that 53 Umno branches were not properly registered.
High Court judge Tan Sri Harun Hashim eventually dismissed the suit but ruled that the existence of unregistered branches meant that Umno itself was an illegal party.
In 1988, Dr Mahathir registered a new party, Umno Baru, that exists up to now, although it is now simply known as Umno.