KUALA LUMPUR: The United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) must show that it is changing and has a new set of leaders to helm it, said caretaker health minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who is also Barisan Nasional’s (BN) candidate contesting in Malaysia’s 15th General Election (GE15).
Speaking to the media during campaigning in Selangor’s Sungai Buloh parliamentary seat on Saturday (Nov 12), Mr Khairy said that there are many emerging and aspiring leaders within UMNO.
Thus, the party must show that it is changing with new leaders such as himself around, Mr Khairy was quoted as saying by the Star.
He said that there should be a new generation of leaders in UMNO, which is the main component party of BN.
BN is contesting in GE15 with caretaker prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob as its prime minister-designate should the coalition return to power after Polling Day on Nov 19.
According to Mr Khairy, UMNO is not a damaged party but it must see a change of guard with a new leadership line-up.
In another report, Mr Khairy said that UMNO has lost its way and needs to go back to its roots.
Mr Khairy, who was a former UMNO youth chief, said that he wants to make UMNO the party that the Malays can be proud of once again.
“It’s just that UMNO (has) lost its way and needs to go back to its roots. UMNO has to be ‘fixed’,” Astro Awani quoted him as saying at a campaign rally in Sungai Buloh on Friday evening.
Describing himself as an “UMNO reformist”, Mr Khairy said that his main focus is to win the Sungai Buloh seat and to make sure that Mr Ismail Sabri returns as prime minister.
He said only after achieving that he will then focus on cleaning up UMNO and BN.
In Selangor, BN won only two parliamentary seats during the 2018 general election (GE14), with Mr Noh Omar, the caretaker entrepreneur development and cooperatives minister, winning in Tanjong Karang for a sixth term and Mr Fasiah Fakeh taking Sabak Bernam.
“All this time, the big names in my party always try to choose a safe area. That is why there is not a lot of competition in Selangor. Usually, only Noh Omar would win, and that too in Tanjong Karang,” said Mr Khairy.
Mr Noh Omar, who had served as Tanjong Karang MP for six terms, was among the big names dropped from the list of BN candidates for the GE15. However, he has decided to remain with BN.
“When we were choosing the candidates (for Selangor), I saw that Khairy Jamaluddin, Megat Zulkarnain and many others could help us wrest Selangor,” said Mr Noh Omar according to a report by Utusan Malaysia.
On Nov 4, Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said several MPs who have been in politics for a long time have to be dropped to make way for new faces as well as to secure more participation from the youths.
FUTURE MALAYSIA PM
On Tuesday, Mr Khairy was reported as saying at a rally that if Sungai Buloh voters gave him the mandate in GE15, he would aspire to lead UMNO and then eventually become prime minister.
“I want to lead UMNO one day with the support of friends. In the future, I want to become your prime minister to develop this country, but I must win here first,” Malaysian media quoted him as saying.
His comments drew mixed reactions from top UMNO politicians, including party president Ahmad Zahid and Mr Ismail Sabri who is an UMNO vice-president.
Ahmad Zahid said that whether Mr Khairy could become prime minister will depend on the results of the 16th General Election and on Mr Khairy’s own efforts to achieve it.
"First of all, he must strengthen the party, not weaken the party. He must win in Sungai Buloh. He must also be accepted by the party and not contradict the party,” said Ahmad Zahid, according to the Malay Mail.
On his part, Mr Ismail Sabri said that Mr Khairy is qualified to be Malaysia’s future prime minister but it all depends on whether he can win an election and whether he can garner support from within the party.
In GE15, Mr Khairy is facing one of the toughest contests as he faces a challenge from six other candidates for the Sungai Buloh seat.
He will be up against Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) Ramanan Ramakrishnan, Mohd Ghazali Md Hamin of Perikatan Nasional (PN), Mohd Akmal Mohd Yusoff of Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA), Ahmad Jufliz of Parti Rakyat Malaysia as well as independent candidates Syed Razak Alsagoff and Nurhaslinda Basri.
More than 21 million voters are eligible to cast their ballots on Nov 19, to elect 222 new members of the Lower House of parliament.
Early voting for some voters will be on Nov 15.