Umno’s reformists silenced in purge, says Khairy

Desmond Davidson

Former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin says he has had a number of offers to join other parties but will not be rushed into a decision. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, February 1, 2023.

FORMER Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said he is no longer optimistic of reform in the party because the voices of the reformists have been silenced following the party’s recent purge.

He said those who were like-minded in demanding reform after the party suffered its worst electoral performance in its history feared they could be sacked or suspended.

“They fear they could end up like me and a few others.

“The sacking, the purging, the cleansing, whatever you call it, has put a fear in them. The voice of the reformists has been silenced,” the former health minister said in an interview on Astro Awani last night.

However, Khairy said he hoped grassroots supporters of Umno, his “true love” – who have “not been given the right to choose who their president should be” – will continue the fight to reform the party.

Describing Umno as “old school” filled with many “extreme yes-men”, Khairy said he does not expect to see reforms happening any time soon.

“Not in the next four or five years. Probably longer than that.

“If we don’t wake up from our current slumber, the trajectory will continue downwards.”

He said Umno is no longer the party of choice for Malays.

“Umno is the third choice, behind PAS and Bersatu. The Malays have moved on.”

Meanwhile, Khairy reiterated that all options are on the table when talking about his political career, including forming a new party.

“I don’t want to make a decision only to later regret it,” he said, adding that he wouldn’t be rushed.

“I am not a frog to jump from one party to another.”

He said there have been offers from political parties and he had met with them to listen to what they had to say.

“I have met them. I want to know their plans as I have been kicked out of my house after 23 years.

“There are people willing to take me in and give me shelter and I definitely will have to consider this.”

However, Khairy said he wants to feel comfortable with the party and its members must feel comfortable with him too.

He said there must be chemistry between him and the members of the party.

“I do not want to go to a place where I am not comfortable. There must be acceptance.

“Do they trust me? I have to consider everything before I make a decision, which is very important and it will not be made overnight.”

Khairy said some of the parties did try to rush him, saying they have to make preparations for the upcoming state elections.

He said he had told them he would not be joining them just for the state elections, adding that he might not even be joining any of them.

“I am uncertain where I am going or my direction. I have only just been sacked.”

Khairy, along with another party stalwart, Noh Omar, were booted from Umno on Friday for allegedly working against party interests. 

Sembrong MP Hishammuddin Hussein and deputy Umno Youth chief Shahril Hamdan were suspended for six years. 

Also suspended were former Jempol MP Mohd Salim Shariff and former Tiram assemblyman Maulizan Bujang.

Khairy said the time he has now will be used for a deep reflection on his next move. – February 1, 2023.

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