Kuala Lumpur, Oct 25: I don’t know about you but when news of Rishi Sanuk (42, Stanford and, with an estimated net worth of RM4 billion, wealthier than the British royals) as Prime Minister-designate of Britain came out, Khairy Jamaluddin came to mind.
KJ is 46, went to Oxford, and although not richer than our royals (but then again, who is?) has gone through the harsh Malaysian political mill - and survived. He took on Zahid Hamidi for the Umno presidency in 2018 after the Barisan Nasional’s defeat in the GE earlier that year, proof that he is poltically fearless. And even after many older members had jumped the sinking Umno-BN ship then, Khairy did not abandon his party.
On the contrary, it would seem now that his own party is trying to frustrate his progress ahead of the 15th general election. The Rembau MP for three consecutive terms has had to grudgingly make way for Mat Hassan, the Negri Sembilan Umno chief (and a PM potential if Umno wins the Nov 19 polls). Mat Hassan could have picked another parliamentary constituency but, no, he had to choose Rembau [Rembau Raid leaves KJ with precarious fate] leaving KJ with one of the unsafe seats in the state.
You can’t blame an outsider like me for suspecting that someone (in his own party) is trying to set KJ up to lose r[Don’t sabotage KJ if he’s picked to stand in Kuala Pilah, former MP tells party members].
But like one faithful follower of Malaysian politics told me, Khairy may even win Lembah Pantai if Umno sends him there. The health portfolio entrusted to him during the pandemic has showcased his competence as a Cabinet minister and endeared him to the general population. Ismail Sabri, who clearly believes he will resume his premiership after GE15, has vowed that KJ will continue to be his Health Minister if he is still PM after Nov 19.
But that was before Rishi Sanuk. And before Zahid Hamidi made the promise of having three Deputy Prime Ministers if BN-Umno wins. In other words, if Ismail Sabri does become PM again after GE15, he can actually appoint someone younger than him as one of his three DPMs. Cannot lah all three DPMs older than the PM himself, right?
P.S For the record, Tun Razak was Malaysia’s youngest PM. He was 48 in 1970 when he succeeded Tunku Abdul Rahman.