KUALA LUMPUR, 26 March 2009: New Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin dismissed accusations that money politics were involved in his campaign as “all part of politics”.
“Until there’s anything to substantiate [the accusations], I can only assume that this was a manifestation of frustration and disappointment,” said Khairy, who defeated Datuk Seri Mohd Khir Toyo and Datuk Mukhriz Mahthir for the post in the closely fought contest.
“It’s been a very difficult contest. It’s been draining not only physically, but emotionally. When you get to that stage, some people are bound to be upset. They were not willing to accept the result.”
Khairy said this during a visit to the media centre at the Putra World Trade Centre today.
He was referring to the eleventh-hour tensions that erupted last night after the results were announced in the Tun Hussein Onn Hall. Rival supporters outside the hall shouted, “KJ rasuah, KJ penipu!” and a scuffle almost broke out. The police were called in to calm the crowd.
Khairy said that he would reach out to as many people as possible, so that such feelings of discontent would be mitigated.
Earlier, Khairy’s opponent Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir said that he continued to enjoy grassroots support, and that this was a way in which he could continue serving Umno.
“I have the support of the grassroots. But their wishes did not translate into votes from the delegates,” Mukhriz said.
When asked about the fact that Umno Youth had chosen a leader who had previously been found guilty of money politics, and whether this was against Najib’s advice at the beginning of the Umno general assembly, Mukhriz refrained from comment.
“That is only speculation. I don’t have proof,” Mukhriz said.
Khairy also explained that there was no recount of Umno Youth votes last night, contrary to news reports. He explained that there was a delay in the Youth results because polling agents had a problem with the way ballots were being sorted.
“The counting only began around 9pm,” Khairy said.
Commenting on the details of outgoing Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s address this morning, Khairy expressed support for the proposal that Umno adopt term limits for its leadership.
“I think it’s a good idea. I don’t want to remain in this post forever,” he said.
Khairy also emphasised the need for the Youth wing to accept new blood.