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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story


Quiet, But Not Forgotten
The Kelantan prince waiting in the wings

OFFICIALLY, DEPUTY PM ANWAR Ibrahim is still PM Mahathir Mohamad's heir. But tension between Mahathir and Anwar supporters seems to be growing. If the two top men ever had to fight for power, former finance minister and Kelantan state prince, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, is one politician both would need to court. Razaleigh's authority in influential, northeastern Kelantan is undiminished.

These days, Razaleigh, 61, keeps a low profile. He wasn't always so quiet. In 1987, Razaleigh nearly ousted Mahathir as UMNO leader in a battle that left the country's dominant party badly bruised and eventually led to a split. The courts deemed the original UMNO illegal: Mahathir formed a new UMNO without Razaleigh, while the prince tried to revive the old party. For nine years, Razaleigh ran his own political group, Semangat '46 or Spirit of '46, a reference to the year the original UMNO was founded. Semangat won little support at the national level, but the party delivered Kelantan to an opposition Islamic party. Mahathir is said to be keen to win back Kelantan before he steps down from office. In 1996, he agreed to allow Razaleigh and his supporters back into UMNO.

But Razaleigh is far from fully rehabilitated. Just a few weeks ago, UMNO's Supreme Council decreed that no one could contest the 14 UMNO divisional chief posts in Kelantan, though Razaleigh himself was given back his old divisional chief post unchallenged. At the same meeting, however, Mahathir shot down a proposal to make Razaleigh the head of Kelantan UMNO, a position he held before the party split.

Razaleigh's associates caution against reading too much into these moves. So do detractors. "I don't think he is interested in upsetting anyone right now," says Kelantan state assemblyman Kamaruddin Mohamed Nor, a close associate of Anwar and longtime foe of Razaleigh. But few in Malaysia are as aware of Mahathir's mood swings as Razaleigh. Eleven years after he almost became prime minister, and a decade after he was written off as a political has-been, Razaleigh waits in the wings. The prince could become kingmaker.

-- By Assif Shameen / Kuala Lumpur

This edition's table of contents | Asiaweek home



U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness

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