Dec 30, 2006

Khairy Jamaluddin in the spotlight of 2006

What a year for Khairy Jamaluddin, the famous son-in-law. 2006, is truly a great year for Khairy.

(The Star) It has not been the best of years for Umno. The party was rattled by the attacks launched by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, while the ultra-Malay tone of the general assembly in November raised the level of discomfort among those watching on. But the party held together well despite the storm. JOCELINE TAN takes a look at some of the events and personalities in Umno that made the headlines in 2006

Khairy Jamaluddin continued to make the news – for things he did as well as for things that he did not.

Such is the celebrity and controversy that surrounds this 30-year-old Umno Youth deputy leader.

He made the news for note-worthy events such as a reality football show that culminated in his MyTeam playing a show-match against the national team to his buying a multi-million ringgit stake in ECM Libra.

The first was noteworthy in the sense that Khairy and his friends managed to pull off a show that was entertaining and, well, real at the same time. It was great seeing young people doing their best at something they loved.

The second marked his entry into the corporate world. Unfortunately, his plans unravelled before the year was out and he has since sold his stake in what is now known as ECM Libra Avenue.

The spotlight on the aspiring politician has never been as hot because it was trained on him by no less than former Premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

His supporters thought this talented Oxford graduate was being unfairly singled out but his detractors who thought of him as a young upstart said he deserved it.

At one point, it seemed like there was no middle ground in public opinion about Khairy – you either admired him greatly or disliked him intensely.

People, even those who had never met him, were prepared to believe the worst about him, including the absurd rumour that he had named his MyTeam company after the actress of Pontianak fame Maya Karin and, worse, that she was his second wife. Even housewives were talking about him.

He kicked up a storm with remarks that non-Malays would take advantage of Umno if it was not united. Non-Malays did not take kindly to his scare-tactics and he will have to work hard to regain their respect.

But within the party, Khairy is viewed as jantan or macho, someone who voices core sentiments of the Malays.

For Khairy, the year 2006 has been one long baptism of fire.

He had to endure not only Dr Mahathir’s scathing remarks but also the power of public opinion.

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