Nurul vs Khairy: Battle for hearts and minds of young M’sia begins

For Pakatan supporters, they take comfort in that come what may, within their coalition are many young leaders as capable as Nurul. And this is a another factor why Khairy may be forced – by the competition he cannot win against – to return to the Umno tradition of using racism and religious bigotry to gain political popularity.

Malaysia Chronicle

The battle for the hearts and minds of young Malaysia has begun with Nurul Izzah Anwar staking claim on a multi-racial Malaysia that allows no room for racism or religious bigotry – two of the most serious issues ailing the nation, not only curbing economic growth but also making the people grossly unhappy.

Hot on her heels is Umno’s Khairy Jamaluddin. The 34-year old Youth chief has been trying to transform himself into a ‘liberal’ of sorts but with mixed success due partly to his own past record of using race-championing to gain popularity but mostly because of his own inconsistency – even now.

Pie on KJ’s face

Perhaps to take the wind out of Nurul’s sails after she won nation-wide acclaim with her crystal-clear article The ultimate Malaysian debate: Malaysia or Malaysaja, Khairy trained his sights on Johor rapper Namewee.

As the 30-year Nurul took on ultra-Malay rights group Perkasa and challenged its overt racism, Khairy issued an “acid test” dare to the non-Malays, especially the Chinese, that what was sauce for the goose was sauce for the gander.

But the reaction he garnered was far from the bouquets of roses showered on Nurul, the oldest daughter of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Instead, the Oxford-trained KJ – as he is also known – got whacked left, right and center by commentators to his Namewee article. Not only did they tear to shreds his logic, they also accused him of reverting to hypocrisy of the older generation Umno leaders.

The real acid test

KJ had accused Namewee of racism because of the lyric in his song You tak baca? Siapa buat Malaysia kaya? But the majority feedback was that the rapper was only stating an economic fact not making a seditious comment unlike the racial slurs hurled by headmistress Siti Inshah, whom Namewee had attacked in his video clip. Siti had likened Indians to dogs and Prime Minister Najib Razak’s special aide Nasir Safar had earlier this year called Indian beggars and Chinese women whores.

Khairy’s critics were upset by the way he pontificated without thinking twice that he himself may be closing an eye to all the factors and therefore guilty of the two-faced hypocrisy that former premier Mahathir Mohamd has been frequently accused of.

And in this is the real acid test – not the one he set for the non-Malays in his Namewee article but one that Malaysians have set for Khairy himself. Can a leopard change its spots? Is Khairy – cocooned by his wealth and privileged position – already too ‘old’ to feel the pulse of young Malaysia? Does young Malaysia want to cosy up to him?

Sadly for him, the son-in-law of former premier Abdullah Badawi cannot reach out to the older Malaysians either. The above 40s think he is a fake and see him more as a potential that cannot be realized because of his temperament and the inconsistency of his character.

Despite his war chest that some say exceed US$200 million, they rate his chances of reaching the political pinnacle as low and believe it is more likely he will end up a frustrated leader rather than a successful one. Pundits also believe he will “transform” yet again and in the near future. They see in him a potential Mahathir – whom many have labeled as the Father of Opportunism – but without the power of office.

Worse than Ibrahim Ali or Mahathir Mohamd
Whether KJ swings to the left, center or right will depend on what is the flavor of the day, but mostly, pundits expect him to swing back to the right. They predicted he will become even more ultra-Malay than Ibrahim Ali and even more Bolehland than Mahathir because this may be the only way for him to fight his Pakatan peers.
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