In 1987, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim wanted to contest for the Umno Deputy President position. The then Umno had been split into Team A and Team B – Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's camp and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah's camp. Anwar was the Umno Youth Chief and Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was his deputy.
Raja Petra said that both Dr Mahathir and Anwar understood that if Najib went to Razaleigh, then Team B would have higher chances to win.
He said that most of the Chinese did not identify with Tun Abdul Razak, but he was greatly supported by Malays. Thus, his son Najib managed to gain support as well.
“Najib wished to be the Umno Youth Chief. He could make it as long as Anwar stayed out of the way. Thus, Anwar said Najib could be the Umno Youth Chief with a condition that he supported Dr Mahathir,” he said.
Raja Petra believed that Najib was not a fighter. He would not aggressively fight for opportunities. However, he would take it if he was given a change.
“It is true even until today.
“Threfore, Najib expressed his support for Dr Mahathir at the very last minute. Otherwise, Razaleigh might have become the Prime Minister. And the Malaysia's history would be different,” he added.
During the most intense period of the dispute between Team A and Team B, Raja Petra and Anwar discussed about the situation at a gathering.
He revealed that: “At that time, we heard that Razaleigh's chances to win was high. We analysed it and I told Anwar that votes from Umno Youth members were very important. That's why Team B led by Razaleigh was trying their best to draw him to their side. We asked about Anwar's opinion and which side he would take.
“Anwar rejected Team B. He said he had promised to support Dr Mahathir. He even said that he would resign if Razaleigh won.”
Dr Mahathir said he would not resign even if he won only by one vote.
Eventually, Dr Mahathir won with a majority of 40 votes. (Guang Ming Daily)