Jan 30, 2010

Tun Mahathir not surprised Khairy unpopular

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 30 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today renewed his tirade against Khairy Jamaluddin, saying he was not surprised the Umno Youth leader was unpopular and openly wondered how the latter won the post.

The former party president has never seen eye-to-eye with Khairy, who not only won the youth wing’s top post against his son, Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, but is also the son-in-law of his nemesis, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

“It unimaginable that an Umno Youth leader was told not to campaign during an election because the party feared if he did, they would lose,” the former prime minister said in reference to the Bukit Gantang by-elections last year.

A blog has claimed that two-thirds of the Umno Youth executive council was ready to resign to pave the way for fresh polls and that there were calls for Khairy to resign.

Khairy’s deputy, Datuk Razali Ibrahim has publicly denied the blog’s claims.

Razali and Mukhriz are deputy ministers but Khairy was not given the traditional posting, similar to Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi when he was Umno youth chief during Dr Mahathir’s time in power.

Dr Mahathir persisted to cast aspersions against Khairy today, saying he did not know how Khairy could have won the Umno Youth chief post in the first place.

“They took seven hours to count 700 votes and that’s strange,” he said, alluding to the elections where both Mukhriz and Datuk Seri Khir Toyo lost to Khairy.

Dr Mahathir noted that Khairy won the deputy youth chief post unopposed in the previous party election because no one stood against him.

“That’s his way, and that’s why they can’t accept it,” he said.

The party’s longest-serving president, who founded Umno again after it was declared illegal in 1988, had always won unopposed, after putting in strict rules governing the eligibility to contest top party posts.

He retired in 2003 and handed over the party and prime minister’s post to Abdullah, but a public between the two then saw Dr Mahathir openly campaigning against his successor and son-in-law.

Dr Mahathir also quit Umno in May 2008 to protest Abdullah’s leadership, but rejoined a day after Datuk Seri Najib Razak was affirmed as party president.

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