Sacking KJ, suspensions, shows Zahid hellbent on purging enemies, says analyst

(FMT) – Umno’s decision to sack its former youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and the suspension of several other leaders is not surprising, says a political analyst.

“It is quite clear that Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is hellbent on getting rid of his enemies. I don’t think anyone is surprised by that,” said James Chin, a professor of Asian Studies at the University of Tasmania.

This was clear from the push to prevent a contest for the top two posts in the upcoming Umno elections, he said, referring to the motion that was passed at the party’s general assembly.

Khairy was among those who called for the posts of president and deputy president to be contested.

“Overall, it will strengthen Umno because there are no more critics of the president,” Chin told FMT.

Khairy, along with former Selangor Umno chief Noh Omar was given the boot last night, for breaching party discipline during the 15th general election.

Khairy and Noh had previously called for Zahid to resign as party president following the disastrous outing by Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) in GE15.

The party also suspended former vice-president and Sembrong MP Hishammuddin Hussein, former information chief Shahril Hamdan, Maulizan Bujang and Salim Sharif for six years.

On whether last night’s developments would affect Umno’s chances in the state polls, especially in Selangor, Chin said it would depend if Khairy and the others joined Perikatan Nasional (PN).

Prior to his sacking, Khairy had turned down the offer to join Muhyiddin Yassin’s coalition, and pledged his loyalty to Umno.

“If they do join, you may see a repeat of what happened in GE15. One of the reasons Umno lost was that Zahid sidelined many warlords.

“If they join PN then contest and win (in state elections), it would reflect very badly on Zahid.”

Oh Ei Sun, of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said the sackings and suspensions would likely strengthen Umno in the near future, especially with the sidelining of Hishammuddin who is seen to be pro-PN.

This is especially after Hishammuddin gave his backing to Muhyiddin to become PM in the aftermath of GE15 when no coalition had the majority, he said.

However, in the long run, the sacking of Khairy and suspension of Shahril, who are seen to be more progressive leaders, may result in younger, progressive Malays shunning the party.

“Khairy’s sacking will not help BN’s cause in Selangor, which is home to progressive voters.

“Sacking Noh Omar too, was unlikely to help BN in the state polls,” Oh said referring to the former Selangor Umno chief.