Saturday, November 18, 2006

Khairy Says
He Does Not Influence
Government Decisions

Attention during this UMNO General Assembly has also been on the new generation of UMNO leaders and the possible role they may play in Malaysian politics.

One person, who has been in the spotlight lately, is Khairy Jamaluddin, the son-in-law of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi.

Khairy, better known as 'KJ', has been a key target of Dr Mahathir Mohamad's recent anti-government criticisms.

The former leader has relentlessly accused the 30-year-old Oxford-trained lawyer of influencing government decisions.

A claim which Khairy, who was formerly the special assistant to Prime Minister Abdullah, has adamantly denied.

"I don't influence. I don't seek and I don't want to influence the Prime Minister," he said.

"I draw a line personal, private, professional and political line with the Prime Minister. Yes, he's my father-in-law but there has to be a line. There has to be "Chinese walls" even within the household, otherwise there can be lots of conflicts of interests."

For a man who once said his aspiration is to be Prime Minister before he turns 40, Khairy certainly raised many eyebrows when he joined UMNO eight years ago.

While his every move is closely watched by many, his future lies with the party support, and he knows that is something he cannot have overnight.

"I've learnt since coming into politics, you cannot plan too much. You have to focus on your work, focus on the day and hopefully you can deliver," the Deputy Chief said.

Married to the Prime Minister's only daughter, Nori Abdullah, Khairy who is the number two man in UMNO Youth, has been trying to promote himself through other means.

He denied that the on-going feud between his father-in-law and Dr Mahathir has split the ruling party.

"Of course the party is restless, because this is somebody we respect, our former President picking a fight with the current President whom we also respect, and that raises some concerns.

"But it hasn't reached the point and I don't think it will reach a point where it's going to split UMNO. UMNO today is very unified, very united, very committed towards the leadership," he insisted.

Political analysts were also generally in agreement.

As for critics who called Mr Abdullah a one-term Prime Minister, observers said the verdict is still out.

Professor Zakaria Ahmad, a Political Analyst, said: "He's a feel-good Prime Minister. He still enjoys popular support among the Malays and also the Non-Malays. In that sense, I don't see him being pulled away by the current.

"But if those other things he was criticised for gain support from various groups within the ruling party, this might mean he might not go beyond the present term he's in." - Melissa Goh, Channel NewsAsia

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