Where is Khairy?


The Umno Youth leader seems as quiet as a mouse since last year’s Umno general assembly.

Scott Ng, Free Malaysia Today

It seemed like 2014 was going to be Khairy Jamaluddin’s year. The popular Youth and Sports Minister was riding high on his new-found image as a progressive Umno politician, a term that is a rarity in itself. He was the revolutionary, leading Umno Youth to transcend its usual role as a pressure group and to begin truly walking the talk.

He took on racists, even those friendly to his own party, when they made statements that hurt the feelings of non-Malays. He pioneered national fitness programmes. He handled Lee Chong Wei’s doping charges with great grace.

He was even tipped as a potential deputy prime minister candidate by veteran pressman and noted Mahathir confidante Kadir Jasin.

But it seems like since last year’s Umno general assembly, Khairy has been as quiet as a mouse. In fact, a cursory check of headlines sees nary a mention of KJ these days, except for the occasional sports-related item, although he did weigh in on the recent TMI arrests, condemning the portal for falsely reporting news.

What happened to the reformer, the revolutionary, the progressive? Khairy remains as popular as ever with the youth, but it seems like he has chosen to lay low and toe the line as of late. He appeared to be a voice of reason and moderation in Umno, but his near silence on the recent spate of arrests seems to speak louder than the reputation he established last year.

In all fairness, he did just welcome his third child, for which we congratulate him, and he is understandably preoccupied with other matters than just politics.

His involvement in Shafee Abdullah’s almost self-congratulatory “I put Anwar in jail” tour also rubbed some moderates the wrong way, thanks to some of the gloating statements issued by the lawyer.

In Umno politics, it is understandable that a politician wishing to be progressive must also pay tribute to the conservative bent of the party. It is a fine line to tread, but the pay-off is Khairy’s popularity among the youth. However, his silence risks his losing traction and momentum.

Perhaps the conservative aura of Umno’s last assembly has resulted in his current cautiousness, but that isn’t the Khairy that gave us hope that there were still sane minds in the ruling party.

At this point, even some advice from him to the youth on how to survive the GST would be appreciated.