KUALA LUMPUR: Former Malaysian health minister Khairy Jamaluddin is free to join any political party now that he is no longer a member of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), said party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on Thursday (May 18).
Ahmad Zahid, who is also Malaysia’s deputy prime minister, said that Mr Khairy is now an independent after being expelled from UMNO in January.
“(It is) his right to go and do whatever he likes … He's no longer an UMNO member,” he was quoted as saying by the Malay Mail.
Ahmad Zahid was asked by reporters to comment on Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) offering a seat in its supreme council to Mr Khairy.
When asked if he would make a counter-offer to Mr Khairy, Ahmad Zahid was quoted by the Malay Mail as saying: “I will not go into strategies. If I did that it would not be a good strategy.”
On Wednesday, Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin reportedly said during a press conference that a seat in the party’s supreme council is available “if he (Mr Khairy) wants it”, according to Free Malaysia Today (FMT).
Muhyiddin also noted that he has discussed the matter with other Bersatu leaders.
According to The Star, Muhyiddin said that Mr Khairy was offered to join the party's supreme council as he has a lot of valuable experience.
“Everyone hopes (Mr Khairy) will join Perikatan,” Muhyiddin reportedly said, adding that Mr Khairy has not applied to join the party so far.
Following the announcement, UMNO communications director Lokman Adam claimed that Mr Khairy, who “appears to be a little impatient these days”, might accept Bersatu’s invitation if he is made Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) chief minister candidate in the upcoming Selangor state elections.
Bersatu is a component party of the PN coalition.
“If (Mr Khairy) is not patient and does not want to wait for UMNO to take him back, he may accept the offer to stand in the Selangor polls under the PN ticket on the condition that he is made the candidate for the post of chief minister,” Mr Lokman was quoted as saying by FMT on Wednesday.
The six states where elections are due to be held this year are Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Penang, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu.
Mr Khairy was sacked from the party in January, as part of a "mass cleansing" threatened by Ahmad Zahid to get rid of "saboteurs".
According to a statement issued on Jan 27 following a party supreme council meeting, UMNO secretary-general Ahmad Maslan said Mr Khairy was sacked for breaching party disciplinary rules.
The former UMNO youth chief had been a vocal opponent of a motion tabled during the party general assembly in January. The motion was to block UMNO’s top two posts - party president and deputy president - from being challenged at the party’s internal elections.
The motion was 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.