PETALING JAYA, 9 April 2009: Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin was left out of the new cabinet line-up because he has been asked to focus on party work.
Khairy said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak spoke with him last night to ask him to concentrate on drawing up strategies to reclaim the support of young Malaysian voters.
Khairy “We both agreed that it would be a full-time job and that it was best for me to concentrate on party work,” he told The Nut Graph in a phone interview today.
Khairy was conspicuously left out of Najib’s administration today while Umno Youth contender Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, who secured the least number of votes in the recent Umno polls, was made deputy international trade and industry minister.
Khairy’s deputy in Umno Youth, Datuk Razali Ibrahim, was also appointed a deputy minister, in the youth and sports ministry.
But Khairy said he was neither surprised nor disappointed at being left out. “I wasn’t hoping for anything to begin with. And as I’ve said before, I’m prepared to serve in any capacity.”
He disagreed that the Umno Youth chief should automatically be given a cabinet position, saying these appointments were totally up to the prime minister to decide.
In the past, the Umno Youth chiefs have traditionally been given the youth and sports ministry to head. The exception was in 1993, when former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad did not appoint then Youth chief Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to any cabinet post.
Mahathir returned to Umno on 5 April after resigning in May 2008. He had cited a loss of confidence in Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s leadership as party president, and has publicly vilified both Abdullah and Khairy, who is Abdullah’s son-in-law.
However, Khairy brushed off any suggestion that Najib was influenced by Mahathir in deciding who he should appoint to his administration.
“The prime minister decided on his line-up based on his own analysis and consideration,” Khairy, a first time Member of Parliament for Rembau, said.
Asked if his supporters would be upset that he had been left out, Khairy said he would explain to them what Najib’s intentions were.
Khairy said he and Najib had a good working relationship.
“We had a really good conversation yesterday, where Najib outlined what I had to do and what the parameters were,” Khairy said, adding that the task that was set for him demonstrated Najib’s confidence in his abilities.
He added that he was looking forward to accomplishing the task that Najib had set for him, adding that the “benchmarks were quite high.”
“I will pour my heart and soul into the party,” he said.
“I hope I will have more time to spend with my family but just because I don’t have a government position doesn’t mean I’ll have more free time,” he added.
Khairy is married to Nori, Abdullah’s daughter. They have two young sons.