Thursday, March 5, 2009

'Am I arrogant? I don't think so' - KJ

Khairy Jamaluddin, son-in-law of outgoing PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and MP for Rembau, has conceded that public perception of him is so bad that he has crossed the point of no return.

He told Malaysiakini in a 90-minute interview last week that only time can rehabilitate his image.
"I'm a realist; I'll have to wait for that," he said. "If I win this contest (Umno Youth chief), then maybe the resuscitation may happen quicker because I have a platform.

"But if I don't, I'll just have to wait until somebody knocks on my door and says, ‘Hey, you're still around'."

In this second of a five-part series, Khairy, 32, described himself as a product of his generation - one which is not completely divorced from historical baggage and where ethnical identity is still important.

Do you believe in defections (among elected representatives)?

I have a problem with defections. But since it's not illegal, once it happens, then you must form the government because the leader of the House has lost the confident of the majority. My point is that it's unethical but it's legal.

But in regard to the Perak situation, there's a majority which has not been tested.

There are many ways of testing the majority, and one way to test the majority is of course from the state assembly, but the Perak state constitution, and I think federal constitution also, allows for the ruler to use his discretion.

I'll give you a very clear-cut example - when you win the general election, the Parliament is not sitting, and the person who appears to have the majority of the House goes to the palace, the King has no way of testing it in the assembly, he'll just think that it's okay, Pak Lah came here, he has won the thing so he can form the government.

So my point is that, the law, whether it's via the letter of the law or the spirit of the law, grants the discretion to the ruler and we'll have to rely on the ruler's wisdom. In the Perak case, I think many people have said this, you're talking about the ruler who has been wrapped in legal knowledge, and he was the Lord President, so he must have his own reasons, strong reasons for doing what he did.

Do you think BN can actually win if there's a snap election in Perak?

I think it's not unwinnable proposition, but it's going to be a close one.

Then again, you went to Permatang Pauh (by-election) to claim ‘we are here to bury Anwar (Ibrahim)'. Isn't it a little too bombastic for you to...

People reading about it or watching it on YouTube in KL is going to think ‘Oh my God, what was that?' (But) You have to contextualise it within Umno Youth politics and things like that. It (the speech) wasn't in front of many people, it was in front of our machineries, for God's sake.

How do you rate BN's chances in Bukit Selambau and Bukit Gantang (by-elections)?

Again, it's going to be very close. The electorate is still polarised. All electoral contests, apart from Permatang Pauh, which is a bit unique, are going to be close from now on. I think we still have some problems with the non-Malay groups and, of course, even Malay groups itself is not solid so...

Even you are not very popular among the non-Malays.

But is there any great Umno politician that is popular among the non-Malays?

Mahathir was popular once.


In your own words, who is Khairy?

Maybe you should interview my wife and ask her.

You could been seen as the most misunderstood man, so explain yourself. Who is the real Khairy?

I was about to say I don't know... I think, I'm a product of my generation, and this generation is a very complex generation. It's not completely divorce from historical baggage, and it's not completely above the, or gone pass ... not looking at things in a way that the last few generations have.

If somebody asks what that the youth of today wants, they still want this plural identity, you know, what it is we call Malaysian. You want your Chinese identity, or Indian identity or Malay identity, with that come certain things, not baggage but certain idiosyncrasy.

For example Malays, as much as you want to talk about being liberal and you still see things as opportunities for Malays (as important), and Chinese will still talk about Chinese education, Indian will still talk about marginalization of the Indian community.

So, that's still there and you can't completely divorce yourself from this ethnic question, but at the same time you have to move on and say that at some point of time in the future, we all have to come to terms that for Malaysia to move forward we have to be judge on the reach of our ability and the content of character, rather than what we are.

If one of us fall then we must pick that person up and move along, but to get there is going to be very difficult. I don't want to sound philosophical about it, maybe in me you'll see all these different contradictions pulling this generation of mine.

I don't think it's confusion; I just think that it's a lot of things happening to this generation and to this country at this point of time, which nobody can put their finger on the pulse of this nation. Because it's just become so desperate, people think so many different things. Maybe it's something that we have to go through.

You've been accused of being arrogant. Are you arrogant?

Am I?

Probably you should listen more. Or that you've come across as a know-all?

I don't know... Well, listening is good. I'm not a know-all, I don't know everything, and I don't pretend to know everything either. I don't know, maybe it's just the...

Probably you're the one always doing all the talking? And people feel like you don't listen...

Really? You have four people interviewing me; of course, I'll need to talk.

But we're talking about in the normal situation, not an interview.

In a normal situation, I'm a very quiet person.

What makes you angry?

Actually, very little makes me angry these days.

So you have resigned to the fact that if you cannot win this fight, this Umno Youth chief, you remain as MP, you'll continue on with your political career. You've resigned to the fact that you may not be the one?

I don't think anyone will be able to think they are the one.

But these past four years, everybody has been talking about you as being the one.

No, I just want to get on with my life, and on the 25th of March, if I get voted in (as Umno Youth chief) then congratulation, you get to report for the next four years or so. If not, then I'll just do my thing, it's fine with me.

The issue is that with all these rumours about you, why don't you come out and clear it up?

I do, it's not the first time I've spoken about this, and I've written about it, I've spoken about it, but it just gets...

Was it a mistake that you didn't come out forthrightly enough to dispel all those...

I did, I did it in 2006...but as far as the perception is concern, when a public figure crosses a point of no return, there is nothing that can rehabilitate and stop the time.

Have you crossed the point of no return?

Yeah, I have crossed the point of no return a long time ago. You know, only time can rehabilitate and when people realise that "Oh no, there's no one else, maybe this guy... we can dust him off and take him out of the storage, and see if he have any wind in his sails".

So you just have to wait for that?

Yeah, I'm a realist; I'll have to wait for that. If I win this contest (Umno Youth chief), then maybe the resuscitation may happen quicker because I have a platform. But if I don't, I'll just have to wait until somebody knocks on my door and says, "Hey, you're still around".

So you disagree that the rumours could help to enhance your ‘mystical' image, and actually you are getting more attention because of all this?

No, I think that it's definitely done more harm to me than good.

But not at that time...

No, not really, I don't think that all publicity is good publicity. I think that some publicity is really bad publicity. And this larger than life thing is out of control. I've met recently a person who runs a fairly popular blog. He has never met me before, first time, but he spends a lot of his time writing about me... for a long time.

The first thing he said to me is that, "Oh, you are taller than I thought". So you know, for somebody that spend a large portion of his time writing about me, he never figured out I was six foot, you can imagine the disconnect between reality and perception.

Why did you decide to give us an interview after all this years?

I generally don't give interview at the time you were asking, but now I feel that it's okay to speak.

Is it not a sign of desperation?

Yes, I must be pretty desperate if I'm in Malaysiakini, aren't I? (laughs)

Source : Malaysiakini


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