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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

NOVEMBER 12, 1999 VOL. 25 NO. 45

Meanwhile, at the Front
On the campaign trail in Kelantan
By JONATHAN SPRAGUE and SANTHA OORJITHAM Kota Baru

    ALSO IN ASIAWEEK
Myanmar: A Tale of Two Countries
Our correspondent goes on assignment to ASEAN's No. 1 pariah - and discovers that nothing is quite as it seems

Malaysia: The Leader in Waiting
Tengku Razaleigh could well be Mahathir Mohamad's heir apparent - if he can win his home state
• Claims, Counter-Claims: The new routine in Malaysian politics
• Meanwhile, at the Front: On the campaign trail in Kelantan
• ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Full Interview
'What Will Be Will Be' - That's Razaleigh's fatalistic take on becoming a future leader. Sure

Forum: Diplomatic License
An Asiaweek-PECC roundtable considers the regional impact of the East Timor situation

Indonesia: The Rise - and Rise - of Amien Rais
Is the MPR chief merely kingmaker, or the power behind the throne?

Thailand: The Politics of a Debacle
More fallout from the Krung Thai Bank affair

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ASIAWEEK
Malaysia: Now, the Sinatra Principle 'We all did it our own way,' croons Mahathir
The Maps to Power Voting districts lay a confusing quilt
Trial by Dirt Anwar's claims fill the court and the media

Malaysia Speculation continues over the election date (10/22/99)

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah is working the crowd in the town of Peringat. After nearly 10 years of rule by Parti Islam SeMalaysia (Pas), Kelantan state lags economically behind the rest of Malaysia, where the Barisan Nasional coalition holds sway. But with development projects, educational spending and better exploitation of resources, not only will the state prosper, but more of its mostly Malay population will have jobs and own companies. How will this happen? Razaleigh, a former Pas ally, delivers the kicker: "All this can be done when Barisan once again rules Kelantan. Only with close ties between the state and the federal government, can all which we yearn for be carried out smoothly."

Development, Islam and the role of women form the battle lines along which Razaleigh will fight to take Kelantan for the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the dominant party in Barisan. The economy is his strongest suit, but Razaleigh also plans to pursue the female vote after Pas spiritual leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat caused a flap by saying less beautiful, hence less marriageable, women should be preferred in hiring. "Pas has alienated them," Razaleigh says. "We can see everywhere that womenfolk are in the forefront. They are also politically conscious."

Nik Aziz dismisses the furor over his comment, explaining that since his administration has to solve the problem of a rising number of "old maids," he suggested the less-beautiful hiring policy as a joke to spark discussion. At the heart of his campaign will be his party's trump card in the conservative state - that Pas is Islamic and UMNO is not. Nik Aziz will also raise "the issue of cruelty to Anwar Ibrahim," UMNO's fallen No. 2. "Although he was from UMNO and I am from Pas, he had the ability to lead," he says. "They embarrassed Anwar before the court had made its ruling [in his first trial]. Why was he destroyed? For another 20 to 30 years, we can't find anyone like him." Pas has made an anti-Barisan pact with Keadilan, led by Anwar's wife, and two other parties.

In the end, the battle may be decided by voters choosing between the party they have supported for a decade, and the native son who has a chance to reach the national summit. "If Barisan succeeds," says Ahmad Faaiz, a Kelantanese professional, "Tengku Razaleigh has a better chance of being prime minister - which would be better for Kelantan."

This edition's table of contents | Asiaweek home

AsiaNow


Malaysia: The Leader in Waiting
Tengku Razaleigh could well be Mahathir Mohamad's heir apparent - if he can win his home state
• Claims, Counter-Claims: The new routine in Malaysian politics
• Meanwhile, at the Front: On the campaign trail in Kelantan
• ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Full Interview
'What Will Be Will Be' - That's Razaleigh's fatalistic take on becoming a future leader. Sure

Quick Scroll: More stories and related stories
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