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Apples and oranges, analysts say on comparing Khairy with PMs sacked from Umno

They say the former Rembau MP's situation is different from that of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Muhyiddin Yassin and Anwar Ibrahim.

Nur Hasliza Mohd Salleh
2 minute read
Former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin at the party's 2022 general assembly at the World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Jan 12. Photo: Bernama
Former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin at the party's 2022 general assembly at the World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Jan 12. Photo: Bernama

Political analysts have cautioned against comparing Khairy Jamaluddin with other former Umno leaders who went on to become prime minister after being sacked from the party, following a wave of support for the former Rembau MP and his ambition of one day leading the country. 

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, veteran political observer Zin Mahmud said it would be inaccurate to make such a comparison. 

"The only thing you can say is that the history of Umno shows that those who are sacked still stand a chance of becoming the prime minister," he said. 

Dr Mahathir Mohamad, for example, was sacked from Umno in September 1969 after writing an open letter criticising the administration of Tunku Abdul Rahman. 

He returned to Umno during the government of Malaysia's second prime minister, Abdul Razak Hussein, becoming prime minister himself for the first time in 1981. 

He left Umno 22 years later, during the administration of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, returning once more after Abdullah stepped down. 

His third and final exit came in 2016, following his dissatisfaction with the government of Najib Razak.

That same year, Muhyiddin Yassin was sacked from the party as well, on grounds of disciplinary offences after speaking up about the 1MDB scandal. 

He and Mahathir joined hands to form Bersatu, linking up with Pakatan Harapan (PH) and riding the wave of victory at the 14th general election in 2018. 

Mahathir was subsequently appointed as prime minister for a second time, holding the post for 22 months until the collapse of the PH government.  

He was succeeded by Muhyiddin, who in turn resigned after losing the support of the majority in August 2021. 

Anwar Ibrahim, the 10th and current prime minister, was likewise sacked from Umno in 1998 during Mahathir's first tenure in power.

More than two decades later, he succeeded in taking the top office with the support of Barisan Nasional, Gabungan Parti Sarawak and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah. 

But Zin said that Khairy could not be compared to these three as his situation was very different. 

For one, he said, Khairy lacked the connections and networks possessed by Anwar and the other leaders, including in the context of the local media. 

"Khairy's relationship with the media is not as good as that of Anwar, Muhyiddin and Mahathir," he said. 

"Some local reporters have complained that Khairy entertains the international media more than them."

Shamsul Amri Baharuddin of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia agreed, saying that Khairy could only be compared to the other leaders in the sense that he had been sacked from Umno. 

Shamsul also said that Khairy had been sacked at a time when Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was dominant in the party. 

"Without Zahid, Anwar would not have become the prime minister," he added. 

He also said that Khairy would have to plan out his strategy for his political future. 

"Right now, he has to overcome the influence of Zahid, even though he is no longer in Umno," he said.