Khairy Jamaluddin, the Umno Baru Youth chief, is smarter than we credit him. The fiercely ambitious Oxford graduate is taking the initiative and showing Umno Baru that he can lead. Blogger Mariam Mokhtar in a MalaysiaKini opinion piece, writes:
Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is facing his worst nightmare. His spectre is a Malaysian in an Australian detention centre. Khairy needs to prove that he will be ‘prime minister material’ if the top post becomes vacant.
Khairy is showing signs of being bored with his day job as the youth and sports minister. After Malaysia’s dismal performance in the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games, Khairy’s focus should be on promoting and improving our performance in sport. He should engage more young Malaysians.
Proving that he has too much time on his hands, the minister has instead organised a roadshow. His co-star is the lead prosecutor in the Sodomy II trial, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah (right). They are trying to convince the public that opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s guilty verdict was a just one.
There is probably an ulterior motive to the roadshow. Shafee has his sights set on being the next attorney-general, whilst Khairy is taking pole position in the race to be the prime minister.
To most Umno Baru members, Khairy shows promise and this will probably upset Najib’s cousin Hishammuddin Hussein, whom many consider to be another potential Malaysian PM.
Hishammuddin’s credentials? He spoke English better than any of the government officials who gave press conferences for MH370. His popularity received a boost after photos of him were circulated, sitting in a cramped economy-class seat en route to a meeting in Australia.
Nevertheless, Khairy has other endearing qualities. He has political pedigree by virtue of his father-in-law, former PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Appearance counts – Khairy wears bespoke suits, because he knows that to look good is half the battle, especially when impressing his design-conscious supporters.
Most important of all, Khairy is a “real man”. The reservist in the Territorial Army underwent commando style training and has obtained his parachute wings.
When some tudung-clad Malay girls were hugged on stage by K-Pop performers, Khairy was dismissive and tweeted, “…I hope Malaysian girls return to tall, dark and handsome men and not pale, skinny and pretty men. Those are not real men.”
To his credit, Khairy did not ask the girls to be investigated, unlike some of his party members.
Has Khairy done enough?
At Umno Baru’s last general assembly in November, Khairy proved his racist credentials with his outburst against non-Malays, warning them not to question Malay rights.
Despite his image of a tough guy, Khairy has a sensitive side to him. The traditional practice is for the Umno Baru Youth leader to be given a ministerial role, but in 2009, Najib snubbed him. Dejected, Khairy hinted to reporters that he might go on study leave and not stand for election in GE13. Pigs can fly!
So, has Khairy – the sports minister – done enough to upgrade sporting facilities in schools, universities and public areas? How has he promoted a more healthy and productive lifestyle in our youth?
Has his ministry successfully discovered and nurtured young, sporting talents? Current stars like squash champion Nicol David will eventually retire, and Lee Chong Wei (right) is embroiled in alleged abuse of drugs.
These – and other ageing stars – will soon have to be replaced. They do not have the qualities of Peter Pan, like some who are still members of ‘Umno Baru Youth’ although middle-aged.
Does Khairy possess the political will to clean up doping and corruption in sports, especially in football?
We need new faces and an injection of fresh, creative ideas to promote sports. Is Khairy afraid of getting rid of the deadwood amongst sports officials?
When will he persuade his party that racism in sports is bad? Before racism crept into the sports arena, there were sporting heroes from all the communities. Competition is healthy, and racism should also be avoided when selecting sporting officials.
Najib’s future is looking bleak and his problems are not caused only by his fiscal measures, his 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the goods and services tax (GST), or the Sodomy II fallout.
Perhaps, this roadshow is to make Khairy stand out from the crowd and prove his worth. Both Najib and Khairy know that in the dog-eat-dog world of Umno Baru, there are enemies around them and it is difficult to distinguish friend from foe.
Najib is aware that his adversaries are circling him, like hyenas waiting for the kill. The stakes are high. No one can be trusted and people are watching their backs.
Is Khairy trying to justify Anwar’s conviction or is he trying to promote himself?
MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army and president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO).