KHAIRYJamaluddin is about to cross another big hurdle in his bid for the Umno Youth leadership. He has to, by hook or by crook, secure the nomination from Rembau where he is the Member of Parliament and the Youth head.
It would be a huge blow if his own division gives the nomination to one of his rivals. As such, the Rembau Youth meeting will be the centre of attention this weekend.
His boys are leaving nothing to chance, especially after what happened to Rembau Puteri chief Bibi Sharliza Mohd Khalid at the division’s Puteri meeting a couple of weeks ago.
Bibi, who is going for the national Puteri Umno leadership, was snubbed by her own division which gave the nomination to the Sabah Puteri chief.
Khairy got his first nomination from his home state only last week.
It came from Tampin, thanks largely to Datuk Jamlus Abdul Aziz, the Negri Sembilan Umno Youth chief. Jamlus is not exactly an ally of Khairy but he had made a rather heartfelt appeal on behalf of Khairy and the latter won the nomination unopposed.
“I hope Rembau will not treat Khairy the way they treated Bibi. That was cruel and the whole country is talking about it,” said Jamlus.
Umno members in the state have been talking about there being too many tigers on one hill in Rembau.
The Rembau division chief is Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan while the Youth chief Khairy is aspiring to be the national Umno Youth leader and Puteri chief Bibi is eyeing the national Puteri leadership.
It is a rather crowded hill with one tiger, a tiger cub and a tigress.
There have even been allegations of manipulation from the top and fingers have been pointed at no less than the division chief himself.
But said Mohamad: “There are a few who are against Khairy but he should not have problems getting the nomination this weekend. I know people are saying that I am interfering. That’s not true, I’m very open in my management and I do not sabotage. In fact, I am ready to pack my bags if I’m not needed. I won’t stay a minute longer than necessary.”
The nomination race has been a humbling experience for Khairy. He has gone from golden boy to underdog, trailing behind Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir and Datuk Seri Dr Khir Toyo.
As the incumbent Umno Youth No. 2, he should not be struggling this way.
He has secured more than enough nominations to contest the wing’s top post but he has had a bruising time getting there.
He is probably more stunned than anyone else that it has been so difficult getting support in Negri Sembilan. Of the eight divisions in the state, four nominated Mukhriz, one was for Khir, one for Khairy.
The Rembau and Seremban divisions will meet this weekend. Khairy is likely to get the okay from Rembau but Seremban may be difficult.
Scoring two out of eight in one’s home turf is not good news. Khir manged to get 15 out of 22 divisions in Selangor behind him while Mukhriz won 13 out of 14 in Kedah.
Political manipulation aside, Khairy’s dilemma also reflects a certain disconnect on his part with the ground as well as the warlords who matter in a contest like this.
Khairy had once described his Prime Minister father-in-law as his “protection” and how he wanted to use it to effect change. This relationship also protected him from those who resented his swift ascent. But the leadership transition has changed everything.
What he is going through now is probably a reality check for him.
But now that he has qualified, Khairy should continue the race as all the candidates will have to start from scratch.
As Khir’s right-hand man Faisal Abdullah said: “We start from zero again after the nominations are over. It could be anybody’s game after that.”
Even those in Mukhriz’s team are not gloating over their man’s massive nominations. They are seriously thinking of ways to maintain the momentum.
It is going to a political marathon from now till March and nothing is over yet, not even for the underdog.