- Advertisement -
News

Clouds continue over Khairy's future in Umno after no-contest rule

But analysts say the former health minister needs only bide his time and maintain his image as a reformist.

Nur Hasliza Mohd Salleh
2 minute read
Share
Khairy Jamaluddin (left) shakes hands with Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at the party's general assembly at the World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Jan 12. Photo: Bernama
Khairy Jamaluddin (left) shakes hands with Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at the party's general assembly at the World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Jan 12. Photo: Bernama

Analysts say a cloud of uncertainty hangs over Khairy Jamaluddin's future in Umno, following a tumultuous weekend at the party's general assembly which decided that the top two posts should go unchallenged at the election to come. 

Khairy, who spoke strongly against the move, has sought to portray himself as an "Umno reformist". 

In his campaign at the recent general election, he said Umno had lost its way and needed to return to its roots. 

He also announced his ambition to one day lead Umno and become the prime minister. 

However, the former Rembau MP who was fielded in Sungai Buloh to allow Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan to contest his seat, was defeated by PKR's Ramanan Ramakrishnan, losing his place in the Dewan Rakyat. 

Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs said Khairy was in a political dilemma. 

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, he said the former health minister was only widely popular as a reformist outside of his party. 

In reality, Oh said, Khairy was not very popular or accepted within Umno, where he is seen as able to interfere in the interests of key office holders. 

"So even if they allowed a competition for the party's top leadership and Khairy took part, it might not be easy for him to win," he said. 

Khairy, a former Umno Youth chief, attempted to run for the post of Umno president in 2018. However, he lost to Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. 

He has often been seen as a threat to the main Umno leadership due to his willingness to speak out, including on controversial issues such as the criminal charges against Umno leaders and internal party matters. 

Still relevant?

But his scope of influence within Umno has narrowed since the Nov 19 polls, as he no longer holds a place in Parliament or the government, and plays no important role in his party.  

Political observer Mazlan Che Soh said Khairy could stay relevant by continuing to project a reformist image, as long as his actions remained consistent. 

Mazlan, of UiTM Seremban, said Khairy should continue to speak up, but through the appropriate party channels. 

"The no-contest motion only involves the top two positions," he said. 

"Other posts like the vice-presidency and places on the Umno Supreme Council are still open. He could try his luck there." 

On Khairy's odds at the Umno election, which must be held by May, Mazlan said that he should participate in order to continue playing an effective role, at least as a member of the Supreme Council.

Oh agreed, saying Khairy would only need to bide his time.

"Wait until the day comes when the majority of members want Umno to leave behind its old ways," he said.