Former Malaysia minister Khairy says ‘window is closing’ on whether to run in Selangor state polls
Khairy Jamaluddin also said that he may consider rejoining the United Malays National Organisation if the leadership changes.
SINGAPORE: Former Malaysian Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said that time is running out for him to agree to run in the upcoming Selangor state elections, seen as the quickest way for a political comeback.
Speaking to CNA on Wednesday (Feb 15) after giving a talk on the first 100 days of Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s time in office, he said: “It’s something that I'm looking at, definitely weighing the options and the offers.
“That would be the quickest way back in, but I’ve (been) getting more and more commitments coming my way which I’ve agreed to. So it would be unfair on people that I work with to suddenly abandon that.”
He added: “So, that window is closing very fast. It's still there. I mean, I'm not saying no. But as I said, the window for jumping back in is closing.”
During the 15th General Election, Mr Khairy was moved from his seat in Rembau, Negeri Sembilan to contest in Sungai Buloh, Selangor. He eventually lost to Pakatan Harapan's K Ramanan in a seven-cornered contest.
The states of Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah, Negeri Sembilan, Penang and Selangor will hold elections this year. These polls are seen as the fastest way for Mr Khairy to return to politics.
He told journalists in Malaysia earlier this month that he is considering contesting the Selangor state polls, with parties offering to back him as the state’s chief minister.
He is currently a DJ for Malaysia’s Hot FM radio station, and earlier on Wednesday Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim announced Mr Khairy's appointment as the Johor youth adviser and a board member of state football club Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT).
Mr Khairy served as youth and sports minister between 2013 and 2018. He was also deputy president of the Football Association of Malaysia in 2007.
When asked about what he had to offer to the football fraternity, the former minister said on Wednesday that he feels “very strongly” about Malaysian football.
“I feel it’s an honour for TMJ (the crown prince) to invite me on to the board. He has great ambitions for JDT to be the best club in Asia,” he said.
“I like that kind of ambition. Whatever small experience that I have that can assist him in fulfilling his vision, I'm happy to do so.”
The former United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) youth chief was also sacked from the party last month, as part of a "mass cleansing" exercise that party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said would rid the party of "saboteurs".
Mr Khairy had been a vocal opponent of a motion tabled during the recent party general assembly to block UMNO’s top two posts - party president and deputy president - from being challenged at the party’s internal elections which must be held by May.
The motion was later passed by the general assembly in a majority vote, paving the way for Ahmad Zahid and his deputy Mohamad Hasan to serve at least another term.
Mr Khairy told CNA on Wednesday that he may consider rejoining UMNO in future if the party sees a change in leadership.
“But I think for now it has to go through this phase of disruption because I don’t think it’s going to fare well.
“I think one day when UMNO decides to move on from the present leadership, I may consider it if I’ve not joined another party by then,” he said.
During the talk on Wednesday, which was organised by the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, Mr Khairy had referred to UMNO as his “home” after spending more than two decades of his political career in the party. The talk was a registration-only event held under the Chatham House rules.
Mr Khairy had previously told CNA that he has not ruled out returning to UMNO one day, a party he joined during tenure of his father-in-law, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who was a former UMNO leader and Malaysia’s fifth prime minister.
"But it would have to be a significantly different UMNO that I would go back to,” he said last month.
“And if I have to go back to an UMNO which is what it is today, then I believe that that would be a colossal waste of time.”