IN recent interviews, Umno Youth-chief hopeful Khairy Jamaluddin has condemned party-hopping, and has been arguing strenuously for reform of Umno and the Barisan Nasional (BN).
However, after the recent BN takeover of the Perak government by defections from the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) camp, Khairy apparently made an about-face. When addressing a crowd of Umno Youth demonstrators in Ipoh, Khairy reportedly called for democratically-elected Menteri Besar (MB) Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin to be “banished” from Perak.
How does this square off with Khairy’s promises of a reformed and less controlling Umno? The Nut Graph held an exclusive e-mail interview with Khairy, and this is his response.
TNG: Many people have criticised you, some very harshly, for calling for Nizar to be “banished”, as reported in Malaysian Insider. How do you see your actions?
Khairy Jamaluddin: There are two considerations to be made here.
First of all, it is the view of Umno Youth and BN Youth that Nizar erred in disobeying the orders of the sultan of Perak. He erred when he refused to resign and halt going about his daily business, as though he was still menteri besar. What he did was not merely insubordination to the crown, but for many it was derhaka — which doesn’t have a literal English translation because “treason” doesn’t quite capture it.
In a constitutional monarchy such as ours, the rulers must be seen as the custodians of the constitution and the laws of the land. This is in addition to the special position they have in the Malay Malaysian community as heads and defenders of Islam. To violate the rulers’ wishes or to question the rulers’ manner of discharging their discretionary powers is to violate the spirit and basis of our constitutional monarchy.
Then there is the second consideration, regarding the content of my message. I dare speculate that many who criticise me for calling for Nizar’s banishment are the same people who were gleeful when it was recommended that I be incarcerated under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
I find this inconsistency quite puzzling; is it not significant that I asked merely for “banishment” and not outright incarceration without trial? If you had seen the mood of the crowd that day, you would appreciate the moderation in what I chose to say.
In fact, the Malaysian Insider piece reported that some in the crowd even called for Nizar to be killed for disobeying the sultan’s orders. Such was the passion amongst BN Youth members who felt that Nizar had trampled upon the sanctity of the institution of Malay rulers.
I hope that your readers will attempt to see my statement within context. A large section of the Malay Malaysian community especially, but also Malaysians in general, gets emotional when there is perceived disrespect to something as dear to their hearts as this.
How do you think your “banish Nizar” remarks are going to affect public perception on whether or not Umno can reform?
Once again, if one were to really look at what I said in the rally, one should not take it as contradictory to Umno’s efforts to reform. Reform in the party needs to take place in multiple areas, including the rhetoric employed, but this must exist within the framework of the party’s ideals and core principles. In fact, the party’s defining challenge has always been about pursuing the Malay party’s agenda within an ever-evolving multiracial context.
On one level, the institution of Malay rulers remains inextricably linked to the Malay Malaysian subject’s identity. Therefore, it is consistent with Umno’s agenda that we came out in defence of the monarchy.
However, it was equally important that Umno and BN came together to demonstrate solidarity for the institution that is supposed to protect the legitimate interests of all Malaysians, regardless of race and religion. The sultan is a ruler for all, not only for Malay Malaysians.
This is why I made it a point in my speech to say that this need not be seen as a racial issue as we had representatives from the MCA, the MIC and the People’s Progressive Party, too. The rally was a collective display of frustration and anger. But of course, the way the banishment remark was reported glossed over whatever multiracial dimension existed in my overall message.
In the reports, it sounded like you were encouraging the demonstrators to resort to whatever action they wanted to in order to prevent Nizar and his exco from entering the state secretariat. Isn’t that just encouraging thuggish behaviour?
Not unless you believe the demonstrators were thugs to begin with. When I said “use whatever means necessary” I took it that the members of the rally knew that when push comes to shove, they would not disobey the law. Their anger stemmed from PR’s transgression of the principles of Rukunegara to begin with, one of which is “kedaulatan undang-undang” or sanctity of the law.
Furthermore, after my speech the Ipoh OCPD asked me not to instruct our boys to be present at the state secretariat when Nizar and his colleagues showed up over the next few days. The OCPD gave an assurance that the police would not allow them (Nizar et al) in.
When I received the OCPD’s assurance, I promptly instructed the head of Perak Umno Youth to stand down since there was no need to be at the state secretariat.
Now that the BN has been sworn in as the Perak state government, do you still stand by your initial statement that crossovers are immoral?
Yes, I do.
A representative gets elected on the back of his or her own strength, but one cannot deny the role of the party’s machinery and voters’ identification with that party. Thus, the act of defecting whilst still holding office is difficult to justify morally.
Note though, that the three assemblypersons who left PR are now Independents who support the BN, not BN members. There is a distinction between what occurred in Perak and what Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was trumpeting for months leading up to [his] 16 Sept 2008 [plan to bring down the federal government by defections].
How do you think BN will fare in the two upcoming by-elections, the Bukit Selambau state assembly seat in Kedah and the Bukit Gantang parliamentary seat in Perak?
Both by-elections will test BN. As both seats were won by PR in the last general elections, they will start as favourites. However, we are confident that given the lessons learnt from both the Permatang Pauh and Kuala Terengganu by-elections, we stand a chance of springing a surprise and halting PR’s momentum.
The by-elections will occur after the Umno party elections and the handover of power from Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to Datuk Seri Najib Razak. This may also turn out to be an advantage for us, since there will be more certainty which will uplift the party’s morale.
I consider the persons who did the interview with him to be either ignorant or somehow Khairy-ist.
For example, when Khairy takes a dig at Pakatan Rakyat leaders and supporters for his “derhaka” nonsense and how the PR people protested, the interviewer fails to ask him why did Umno, the supposed Malay protector, protest against the King and the Sultan of Trengganu.
Why not ask him if that, including the calling of the King “binatang”, is part of the Rukun Negara? Cheap. I have lost my faith in this blog. Finish!
D Lim says
A leopard will not change its spots. Let the people decide in the by-elections. We deserve what we get.
Teh Ewe Leng says
Hello KJ. You are giving your [members] too much credit when you say that they will know they are not supposed to break the law!
He attempts to sound ‘moderate’, intelligent , and justify his bad rhetorics and behaviour. However, a responsible, progressive, and truly intelligent leader is able to lead and influence his people the right way and exemplifies just values.
After reading all his interviews, one can still conclude that Khairy is merely a young politician trying to gain support by ‘whichever means neccessary’, including conveniently using demagogy, playing to people’s unfound fears. His interviews are starting to sound nothing more than useless air time for wasted intelligence.
But any more air time for Khairy would seem like The Nut Graph ends up being a platform for someone intelligent enough to debate, but serves no purpose otherwise than to tell us that.
Aiyoyo! This “man” is such a joke that I honestly cannot even get upset with him at this point!! I mean, seriously, the idiocy of his statements is unparelled by anyone [apart from] Khir Toyo and Syed Hamid. A Harvard education apparently can’t remove the narrow-minded hypocrisy of some people la.
“The act of defecting whilst still holding office is difficult to justify morally. Note though, that the three assemblypersons who left PR are now Independents who support the BN, not BN members.”
These people are such a waste of oxygen.
Mate, you’re a champion at doublespeak!
This interview is just rubbish! By the way, one is entitled to his/her opinion.
After reading this (not that I paid much attention though), I can’t understand a single thing he’s trying to convey. Can anyone tell me in summary what his message was?
I 101% agree that Khairy is confused. This Khairy was trying very hard to make his presence felt. He is nothing but a “hooligan”. Take a serious look at what he did in Ipoh, Perak.
He brought in all his gangster youth trying to show off. Konon konon want to champion the cause of the monarch. He and Umno were the first to ridicule or menderhaka to the Sultan of Terengganu and the King of Malaysia. Has he forgotten that? Where is he going to put his face. Malaysians will not forget this. Khairy will go down, but not in history.
Even the sultans are bound by law, they are not absolute Rulers. Our constitution is supreme, not anything or anyone else.
And what exactly are the Ruler’s dicretionary powers?
Let the courts decide.
RM50 ringgit a head. Which means RM50,000 was spent on the rent-a-mob in Ipoh. Just to listen to Khairy talk about banishment.
In a nut shell, KJ is saying it’s OK to be or act like thugs as long as you obey the law and the police can give you assurance that they’ll act on your behalf. Defection is immoral but when some katak jump and become independents friendly to BN, that’s OK.
This guy is a real Harvard Grad. Smooth talker……. I support you! You’ll be the next Youth Chief! You’ll lead your thugs to battle and from there, we’ll see you buried like you promise to bury DSAI in Permatang Pauh.
Don’t want to waste my time on this type of things especially if this guy is talking.
Mazlan Ismal says
This interview was a total waste of time. Was it done to make him look good? This individual is probably the most corrupt of all in Malaysia and has amassed billions through very dubious means while being officially unemployed, imagine that.
Ramlan Abdullah says
Nobody is above the law, and that includes the sultans, who in fact should be the guardians of the Federal Consitution. To think that a former lord president has erred, legally, in his decision is incomprehensible, to say the least. A disappointment indeed.
In this interview, Khairy is contradicting himself all over. Plainly put, he doesn’t seem to be a man of principles and is playing to his audience.
Linda Frater says
Spot on Melissa. He just wants to be the next umno youth head. Now that his father-in-law is not going to be of help he has to help himself and he thinks that thuggish and boorish behaviour will appeal to the Malay heartland.
He is a chameleon that one. He can be anything to suit the occasion.
OXFORD GRAD TOO says
KJ, as an Oxford graduate you have NOT demonstrated maturity. You are merely one more Malay politician trying to win support by playing up Malay sentiments.
And I am surprised as an Oxford graduate you do NOT have credentials and work experiences.
There is no virtue in manipulation of word [talk] or walk [act]. It is an illness like any other mental illness. Nothing can come from corn but corn, nothing from nettles but nettles.
Maturity or wisdom is something deeper than the intellect. Things need not be rationalised or explained in the light of maturity or wisdom.
Uphold the law … wow, who is doing that? BN? Umno? PKR?
If you believe it is morally wrong, then stand up and tell your party members off.
Is this FHM or GQ magazine or some other rubbish?
Chap KW says
The interviewer merely allowed KJ to explain his way out. It must be KJ who asked to be interviewed so that he could get away with it.
To that, I say, “No way out.”
R Nadarajan says
I truly admire and appreciate in no uncertain terms, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, my mentor and one of the people whom I admire, for having put the Malay rulers and their powers within the Malaysian constitution in their respective confined limit.
With this, Malaysians can enjoy democratic freedom without being harassed by their institution and position. We must remember that we are maintaining all the rulers and their families with our hard earned money. Please do not give too much power to the institution of the rulers for your own benefit. One day, harm may befall upon you.
Khairy will be thrown out by his own party members once his father-in-law is no longer in control.
He is an opportunites. If he and the rest of Umno are truly fighting for the royalty then why didn’t they shout and condemn Dr M when he stripped the power of the sultans?
He is capitalising on the current crisis in Perak to gain strength at the expense of others.
All I can say is that KJ sounds like he’s trying to act smart but he’s really not. Calling himself a politician but doesn’t understand the Perak constitution. From this interview he claims it’s about respecting the royalty. But if what he says is true we might as well do away with elections.
Khairy is another Najib … both men will do anything under the sun to rule Malaysia…If the opposition soars…you are likely to see riots in the corner, even targeting of Anwar, Karpal Singh.
Malaysia is approaching the era of Marcos in the Philippines and Mugabe in Zimbabwe. They have treasury, all the money they want, the police, the judiciary and most of print media and TV and Radio. Malaysia will go through dark ages to come in 2009-2011. Such people want to rule, and rule at any price. Sad days ahead of us all….
Much as I dislike Khairy, I do not wish him to be thrown into ISA, because I think the ISA should be abolished. His comments in this interview are at best a very pathetic attempt to justify what he did and said about events in Perak. None of his answers hold any water.
Everyone in Umno has the same immoral double standards.
“I hope that your readers will attempt to see my statement within context…”
Your tendency to play to the gallery exposes you for what you truly are: a self-serving politician who will not hesitate to destroy the country to attain your personal objectives.
Malaysia deserves better, not that Umno has anyone else to offer. Do the country a favour. Take the money and go.
First of all, Umno-Melayu mudah lupa. Baru-baru apa belaku di Terengganu, bukan dengan sultan tetapi Yang Di-Pertuan Agong. Secondly, even if Khairy was born in Rembau or Malaysia, never did he get local school education and local culture education.
How does he know how to live as a Malay Malaysian? I am Chinese, and believe I have more adat resam Melayu. So, how can he understand adat-adat istana?
Thirdly, he is taking this opportunity to gain support for the party elections. Following point number two, I believe Mukhriz is better person to lead Pemuda Umno. WIth Khairy, one time say this, another time act the other way.
Gotta agree with Ahmad. I expected better from Jacqueline Surin and gang but they did not challenge his statements. It’s a coup to get Khairy to talk but wasted opportunity here.
All it showed is a man contradicting himself but who presumes he is smart enough to pull wool over our eyes.
Khairy, go home and learn to be a statesman rather than a politician. All you have learnt is to speak with a forked tongue but that’s what all politicians are good at.
Jacqueline, you can always do better. You know that.
learned and confused reader says
First I applaud TNG’s effort in providing some really good articles, and a space to expand our understanding in politics, democracy, etc. with appropriate analysis. However, I am puzzled on such a big coverage for KJ (as I found it a waste of your time, and readers’ time). Please work on other “deserving and inspiring” leaders whom we could emulate or you are sending the wrong message that he’s the Malaysian Idol!
Dhanen Mahes says
Ha ha, yeah democrat he is, isn’t he?