Sep 25, 2008

Khairy - Youth chief contest won’t be easy

KUALA LUMPUR: The contest for the Umno Youth chief post in the coming party polls will be a tough battle, says Umno Youth deputy youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin.

He said Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, the son of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad, and former Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo were strong contenders.

When asked about his chances of winning the contest, he said: “So-so. It will be a tough fight for (Datuk Seri) Khir Toyo, (Datuk) Mukhriz and I.”

Khairy, 32, announced his intention to contest for the post last week.

On his campaigning, he said it was going well and support from the grassroots was good.

Asked what kind of changes he aspired to bring to the movement, he replied: “Umno Youth has to be inclusive. I will be a leader for all Malaysians, not only for Umno Youth members.”

Mukhriz, 44, also saw the contest as a tough fight, saying Khairy and Dr Khir were strong challengers.

“I won’t take it lightly. My first hurdle will be to get enough nominations. If I qualify, my chances will be fair to good.”

Mukhriz said he had met many youth delegates and also obtained support from those holding high posts in the movement.

If he becomes youth chief, he said he would ensure the movement returned to its role of providing checks and balances within the party; as well as listening, understanding and helping resolve problems faced by youths.

“Sometimes, decisions made by the top leadership may be controversial and the movement needs to give alternative views. For the past four years, we have not played this role due to certain reasons.”

Dr Khir, 45 is currently performing his ummrah in Mecca.

A party official who declined to be named said Dr Khir had the edge among kampung folk due to his background.

“It is also what he calls kasih sayang (loving touch). He campaigns in big states like Selangor and areas where there are village folk of Javanese descent in Johor and Perak,” he said.

Each candidate needs 38 nominations to qualify. Another aspirant for the top post is Padang Besar Umno division chief Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin. 48.

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