IT was a significant victory for 33-year-old Khairy Jamaluddin on the night of 25 March 2009 when he won the Umno Youth race to become its new chief.
Significant because Khairy beat favourite Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir by 72 votes and former Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo by 50 votes. This was despite what seemed like a waning political future for him following Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s loss of support as both prime minister and party president.
But significant also because Khairy, who is Abdullah’s son-in-law, had just been slapped with a warning by the party’s disciplinary board for money politics.
Despite his victory, it would seem that hordes of Umno members, at least outside the Putra World Trade Centre where the party general assembly was held, were unhappy and unconvinced.
A mob of Umno members yelled, “Khairy! Rasuah!” and “Penipu!” outside the hall where Khairy gave his acceptance speech. The crowd was so angry it pushed against the human barricade of security personnel that was blocking them from entering the hall.
Despite the intensity of the protests, Khairy has since dismissed the accusations of money politics in his campaign as “all part of politics”. Still, dissatisfaction at his victory remains thick, and it is left to be seen if Khairy — his political career now revived — will survive his own party.