There were four contenders for the UMNO for the VP post. Three of them were very ambitious. Ku Li, seemed to be the favourite choice but the votes at the General Assembly would decide. The VP normally would be the DPM.
KL ego-boosted as a whizz kid and as Finance Minister was rumoured to have a special lift built for his limo to be brought up to the floor of his office.
The UMNO GA votes of 1987 declared that Gaffar Baba was the winner and became the VP. KL challenged the outcome claiming that there were irregularities in terms registration of several UMNO branches. This found to be so and ROS deregistered UMNO. Mahathir brilliantly overcome the fiasco by registering the party as UMNO BARU.
Ghafar menujulang tangan Mahathir setelah menewaskan Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah dalam pemilihan pucuk pimpinan 987.
KL along with his staunch associates and followers formed a new opposition party, Semangat 46. The party formed a loose coalition with DAP, PAS and PBS known as Gagasan Rakyat. In the 1990 general election S46 performed poorly winning only 8 parrliamentary seats, DAP 20, PBS 14, and PAS 7 ie. a total of 49 seats.
Semangat 46 was a dark episode in the history of KL. He still holds the secret of the full story, emotions, and politics of the misadventure. When S46 was disbanded most the members returned to the fold of UMNO. The about-turn was wise on KL's part.
Ku Li would have reinvented himself in many ways in the years he has been sidelined in the mainstream of UMNO politics. Perhaps being wiser he has remain uncontroversial to gain back some of the trust enplaced on him before. This is evident in a recent event by Perkasa.
In these times of Kangkung leadership debacle KL seems to be an alternative if not the saviour to lead the country. Will the winds of change and timing will be in his favour?