Mutiny in Umno Youth, rebels bay for captain’s blood

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid, Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: There is a movement growing in Umno Youth to put a halt to their chief Khairy Jamaluddin’s influence. The guns are trained on the state Umno Youth chiefs aligned to the Oxford graduate and son-in-law of former premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

It is learnt that the movement, although nationwide, is strongest in three states – Selangor, Perak and Johor – where Umno Youth division leaders are piling the pressure on some of the states’ top Youth leaders to quit.

In Selangor, some 14 Youth division chiefs have mounted an uprising against their state boss Mohd Suhaimi Ghazali, a Khairy ally.

The group is planning to submit a protest memorandum to Suhaimi demanding for his immediate resignation.

“He has not done anything to move the machinery here. The memorandum is a sign of protest against what is seen as Suhaimi’s failure to act as an effective Youth leader in Selangor,” a source told FMT.

Suhaimi’s position has been the subject of much speculation. It is said that he tendered his resignation on July 1 after a fallout with Selangor Umno’s de facto leader Noh Omar.

Several pro-Umno blogs recently reported that Suhaimi quit his post after Noh, in what appears to be a move to place his man for the job, accused the incumbent of being incompetent.

Noh was apparently upset that Suhaimi failed to effectively exploit the illegal sand mining issue against the Pakatan Rakyat-led state government.

Khairy’s men unpopular

Party sources said Suhaimi’s resignation came after he was informed of the memorandum calling for his resignation, which confirmed his and Khairy’s unpopularity among grassroots leaders in the state.

“The problem with Khairy is that he placed his men for such posts when they do not enjoy support or are unpopular among the grassroots. He knows that he himself is not popular in Umno,” said one source.

It is understood that Khairy has asked Suhaimi to reconsider his decision to quit. The latter has also been vague about his position.

Meanwhile, a similar scene is unravelling in Perak and Johor, with complaints mounting over the so-called “under-performance” of the respective state chiefs and committee members aligend to Khairy.

Party sources said the discontent and rumours of an uprising against Khairy’s men are not new but these have intensified recently and Umno president and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is well aware of it.

“Especially in Selangor. He (Najib) knows but what can he do?” said a Selangor Youth leader.

‘Leave, or get kicked out’

Khairy clinched the Youth chief post in a tight contest, beating Mukhriz Mahathir, the son of powerful former premier Dr Mahathir Mohammad, and former Selangor mentri besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo, a staunch supporter of Mahathir.

The 34-year-old politician had become an unpopular figure during the reign of his father-in-law and was largely blamed for Barisan Nasional’s electoral debacle in 2008.

Breaking from tradition, Najib had twice excluded Khairy from his cabinet line up, breaking a long held tradition of giving the Umno Youth chief a ministerial portfolio.