Coming in last not so bad after all

By Chan Kok Leong, The Edge

In Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s maiden government lineup announced yesterday, Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, the third son of the country's fourth prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, stood out conspicuously as the new appointee to the executive branch.

While this was not entirely unexpected, the absence of newly elected Umno Youth chief and son-in-law of former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Khairy Jamaluddin, will be a talking point for many.

Mukhriz was appointed as one of two deputy ministers in the high-profile Ministry of International Trade and Industry, which is now headed by Datuk Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah.

Adding salt to injury, Umno Youth vice-chief Datuk Razali Ibrahim was also made a deputy minister. He will join MCA’s Wee Jeck Seng in Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek’s Youth and Sports Ministry.

When contacted, Khairy said that he was pleased with the new cabinet and was proud that Razali was included in the new lineup.

“I was informed by the prime minister on Wednesday night that he wanted me to put my full attention towards strengthening the Youth movement.
“Based on the declining support for Barisan Nasional among young voters, we agreed that this responsibility was a full-time commitment. Free from any government duties, I will be able to focus all my attention towards this task,” the Rembau MP told The Edge Financial Daily yesterday.

During Umno elections last month, Khairy defeated Datuk Seri Dr Khir Toyo and Mukhriz. Khairy picked up 304 votes to Khir’s 254 and Mukhriz's 232 votes.

Newly elected Wanita chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil was appointed as the new minister in charge of women, family and community development while Puteri chief Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin was picked as a deputy minister for the health ministry.

Leading up to Najib’s announcement yesterday, former premier Dr Mahathir had wrote in his blog that he was confident that the new prime minister would not include Khairy in his lineup.

In a veiled threat, Dr Mahathir also said that he would quit Umno again if he saw remnants of Abdullah’s followers in the new cabinet.

In the run-up to the Umno elections recently, Khairy was among 15 members, including Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, who were found guilty by the party's disciplinary board of being involved in money politics.

However, the punishment meted out was different depending on the severity of the allegations and the board's findings, and while Mohd Ali was barred from contesting, Khairy was only given a warning. Khairy has maintained his innocence.