The Truth About Khairy Jamaluddin – 23
The Truth About Khairy Jamaluddin continues here:
Part 23 – Faster, Higher, Stronger
Khairy Jamaluddin is involved in only one sports organisation, the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM). The Sultan of Pahang, who in his infinite wisdom wanted to be close to the boy who would be Prime Minister, offered him a seat on the Exco; even though Khairy never played a day of soccer in his entire life. Another proponent of his entry into FAM is Raduan Sheikh Ahmad, brother of UMNO Secretary-General Radzi Sheikh Ahmad, who is more interested in Khairy’s money and how he could allocate that to causes related to Malaysian football. Khairy doesn’t mind this. In a ‘scratch your back, scratch my back’ world, any alliance is an advantage; especially since public support for Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is getting thinner and the patience of UMNO members with the Abdullah family’s greedy ways has grown into seething discontent.
The only game that matters to Khairy is the 100 metre dash. Early on in his political career, Khairy decided not to be a marathon man, pacing himself with the older generation and waiting patiently for his turn. Khairy wants to kick the opposition to pieces and shatter the glass ceiling, making himself the youngest ever Prime Minister. He is well on his way to that. But a few obstacles remain, and Khairy wants to wish them away. In the coming year, he will try his best to remove these obstacles and smoothen his path to power.
Already he has had to move quicker than planned. The intense attacks through poison-pen letters by his rivals in UMNO, such as Khir Toyo and Hishammuddin Hussein, have caused Khairy to lose the goodwill of many of the rank-and-file. The Pengkalan Pasir by-election showed UMNO Youth members that Khairy was not the magic elixir that could produce massive support. Khairy’s claim that he was the leading light of a new generation which had the support of the majority of young people in the country proved to be a hollow boast. The 2,000 young voters he promised to deliver in Pengkalan Pasir failed to materialise and the ones that actually gave him support were attracted to his money rather than his charisma.
In his dream of dreams, Khairy wants 2006 to be the year he becomes a mainstream player. To that end, he has laid the ground for several changes. Khairy’s wish list for 2006 is as follows:
1. Influence the Cabinet reshuffle
A cabinet reshuffle is long overdue. The Abdullah Badawi XXL cabinet created after the last general election has proven to be weak and uninspiring. Abdullah’s choice of ministers at that time was dictated by the ghost of Mahathir and the need to reward several unsavoury characters who had helped him sustain his slow ascent to the Premiership. However, he failed to deliver on the promises made and it has regressed into a Third World Cabinet with Third World mentalities.
Khairy is eager to stamp his mark. He wants to kick out or at least reduce the power of several senior ministers who have been disrespectful of his powers — Samy Vellu, Lim Keng Yaik and Rafidah Aziz have been too long in the teeth and do not kowtow to Khairy as he thinks they should. These ministers will be running their last laps in irrelevant ministries or find themselves with understudies eager to play the top billing.
Khairy also wants to promote his cronies. He wants to secure higher positions for Noh Omar, Shaziman Abu Mansor, Adham Baba and promote to the cabinet people such as Ahmad Shabery Cheek. To do so, some older leaders must be kicked out and these Young Turks rewarded with positions of responsibility.
The cabinet reshuffle, which is due anytime between now and the Sarawak state election, is also a useful tool to scare some potential rivals. Khairy has been telling people that Hishammuddin Hussein, for example, has not ‘performed’ as Minister of Education. Khairy has planted the seed of doubt by accusing Hishammuddin of being mired in appointing too many Special Officers in his ministry. Indeed, Hishammuddin has 15 such officers, double the number that of the Prime Minister himself. Khairy wants Hishammuddin to know that if he were to be allowed to continue holding powerful portfolios, it would only be by the grace and favour of the all-powerful son-in-law.
2. Remove Khir Toyo
Khir Toyo continues to be the most apparent challenger to Khairy’s throne. Whether as a future UMNO Youth Head or even as a stalking-horse to the post of Vice Youth Head, Khir Toyo commands the support of rank-and-file UMNO members even though he inspires mostly disgust amongst non-UMNO citizens. The magic of Khir Toyo comes from the fact that, unlike Khairy, the fruits of his corruption are shared with other leaders. For example, Khir Toyo never forgets to give cash payments in the hundreds of thousands to all the divisions of Selangor UMNO for them to trickle down the largesse to ordinary members. Khairy does not do that and he only rewards his closest friends and those within his circle. As a result, though both are intrinsically corrupt, Khir is an immensely popular politician.
Khairy’s deal with TV3 News and Current Affairs Director, Dato’ Kamarulzaman Zainal, boils down to attacking Khir Toyo on almost all the wrongs happening in Selangor. To some extent this has been successful. But Khir is not as stupid as he looks. He hides behind Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and uses his links to Mahathir’s son, Mokhzani, to maintain his position. He has very cleverly deflected threats from Abdullah loyalists in Selangor by giving them tasks they could not possibly perform and allocating them problematic portfolios.
2006 will show Khairy trying very hard through the media to tar Khir Toyo and bring him crashing to the ground. At the moment, Khairy is planning an expose through an English newspaper about Khir’s role in personally approving projects in certain areas to relatives of his wife, Zaharah Kecik, and other such cronies. The stories will begin as an environmental scandal and end up questioning the probity of the Menteri Besar himself. By such means, and with the aid of TV3, Khairy hopes that Khir will finally leave the scene blemished and unelectable.
3. Promote Wan Farid to a higher position
Wan Mohd Farid Wan Salleh is Khairy’s new ally in the PM’s office. As Political Secretary to the Prime Minister, Wan Farid has taken on the role of Khairy’s unofficial gatekeeper in that office. Whereas Khairy himself used to play this role, he is now too busy to do so and trusts Wan Farid, the 42-year old politician from Terengganu, to be the toll-collector from businessmen who seek the Prime Minister’s stamp of authority for their projects. Wan Farid has been so successful at this that he is soon to be made a Senator, and if word on the ground is correct, he will soon ascend to the office of Minister, where he is then expected to be totally indebted to Khairy.
Already Wan Farid has been instrumental in securing a large chunk of Terengganu oil royalties for a pet project of one of Khairy’s businessmen friends, Patrick Lim. The businessman, who flies Khairy around in his private jet, recently obtained RM89 million from the Terengganu Special Fund, without having to refer to the Menteri Besar, Idris Jusoh, or the State Exco. It was Wan Farid who did the deal and ensured that Khairy got his appropriate cut. The money was supposed to be allocated towards development projects for the poor, but has instead gone towards building a tourist complex, shopping mall and condominiums. Inflated by over 40%, the Chinese businessman has allocated a sizeable portion of the profit to Wan Farid and Khairy.
One of the major movers and shakers of 2006 will be Wan Farid. Khairy is now contemplating whether he should be more prominent and be made a minister, or continue to play a background role, thereby ensuring lack of public knowledge over the secret goings-on in Abdullah’s office. Either way, both men will become richer by the millions in this New Year.
4. Crush Reezal Merican
There are some who are stupid enough to think that because Reezal Merican and Khairy used to work in the same office and are both UMNO Youth Exco members, they should then be bosom buddies. In fact, the reverse is true. Reezal Merican hated Khairy the moment that young upstart walked into the corridors of power. The feeling was mutual — Khairy too felt that Reezal Merican was an IIUM graduate who was decidedly stupid, backward and good for nothing more than reciting a few doas. As Khairy became more and more powerful, Reezal had tried to be more accommodative, but Khairy continues to regard Reezal with contempt.
The blunder caused by Reezal’s over-enthusiastic challenge to Anwar ally Suhaimi Ibrahim in GPMS is the perfect opportunity for Khairy to tarnish Reezal further. Already Khairy has circulated copies of Reezal’s irregular claims upon the Finance Ministry coffers. As Political Secretary to the First Minister of Finance, Reezal gets certain out-of-pocket expenses for his official duties. But Reezal has also charged many other expenses to this account, including political lunches, IIUM Alumni Association Dinners and GPMS meetings. Another source of Khairy’s anger with Reezal is that the latter has openly canvassed support for him challenging Khairy in the UMNO Youth leadership elections to come. Reezal uses a network of IIUM alumni who are now working as Special Officers to certain ministers to canvass their support. So Khairy has decided that 2006 will be the year that Reezal Merican gets his just desserts.
5. Clip Najib’s wings
Khairy has been counting on Najib Tun Razak’s timidity to ensure that no challenges would be forthcoming from that scion of ‘wait-and-see’. After all, Najib has all the time in the world to wait and the Khairy camp has lulled Najib into thinking that Khairy is warming up to him. Khairy has even gone so far as to say that Najib has proven himself time and time again as the most loyal and genuine of all the ministers in the current cabinet.
Famous last words! Khairy has never ceased planning Najib’s downfall. The only reason why Khairy has not acted thus far is because he is not strong enough to override the support given to Najib by Mahathir’s former supporters and other UMNO leaders fearful that Khairy is trying to bring back that old bugbear, Anwar Ibrahim, into UMNO. Another reason why Khairy has so far failed to act is because Najib is able to rally far more support from rank-and-file leaders than Abdullah and Khairy can. Dissatisfaction amongst ordinary UMNO members against weak, tepid and irresolute Abdullah who is seen to be totally under the control of a greedy, conniving Khairy cannot be underestimated. Since the last UMNO elections, the focus of discontent have settled on Khairy’s shoulders and, in a showdown between Abdullah and Najib, Abdullah will lose hands down. So Khairy cannot act now without devising a foolproof plan on how to remove Najib.
So Najib’s wings will be clipped. Khairy intends to:
I. Remove Najib’s supporters from the Cabinet
II. Defeat Najib’s candidates in the Divisional and Youth elections
III. Destroy Najib’s credibility through the media
In addition to that, Najib’s economic strength is to be severely compromised. The rise and rise of CIMB, led by Najib’s sibling, Nazir Razak, is less the target, given that there is less opportunity to create a scandal in such a public company. Furthermore, Nazir is a scrupulously straightforward businessman. However, Najib’s other brothers have been involved in behind-the-scene deals with potential Khairy enemies in the business world, including a few top Malay and Chinese businessmen. These siblings, notably Nizam and Johari Razak, are the main targets for Khairy. In the next year, some of their more secret deals will be made public by Khairy’s friends in the media to try and paint Najib as a politician mired in cronyism, much in the mould of Mahathir Mohamad.
6. Destroy Mahathir’s legacy
Khairy’s biggest enemy is not the up-and-coming politicians of UMNO, but that great has-been, Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Mahathir continues to be the main critic of the government of Abdullah Badawi. The public knows that Mahathir is not happy with many of the moves initiated by Abdullah, not because he thinks these policies run contrary to his legacy, but because Mahathir sincerely believes that many of these policies were concocted by Khairy and his cronies in Ethos Consulting and ECM Libra in order to enrich themselves.
Although some may say that Mahathir had done the same thing for his own cronies, Mahathir believes that his plan also produced many successful Malay tycoons whom he had hoped would be able to engineer a wealthier Malay business class. In Mahathir’s eyes, what Khairy is doing is just for the sake of his own pocket. Mahathir also believes that Abdullah is immensely stupid and totally out-of-touch with the purposes of national development. Mahathir thinks that the Abdullah government has now become too dangerous to be allowed to survive much longer.
Mahathir’s intention for 2006 is to further expose what he feels are mistakes made by Abdullah and also use these criticisms to level a veiled attack on Khairy. While Khairy can quickly answer the attacks of other UMNO leaders, Mahathir is a different kettle of fish. Khairy cannot be brash and disrespectful towards Mahathir as he is with Najib, Ali Rustam, Muhyiddin, Khir Toyo and others of that persuasion. Mahathir is indeed Khairy’s biggest PR problem.
But perhaps 2006 may yet see Khairy winning over Mahathir. After all, Mahathir is now 81 years old and has just recently survived a minor heart attack, disguised as a ‘routine check-up’. It cannot be expected that Mahathir is healthy enough to launch a strong challenge against Khairy. When Mahathir backs down due to ill-health, won’t Najib also do the same — knowing that his biggest supporter will not be around him to weather the whole attack?
7. Make another RM300 million
Khairy understands the first rule of UMNO politics is to make enough money to buy the votes. So far, Khairy has done very well from selling government-linked stocks to certain parties, including foreign government investment companies. Khairy has built up a treasure chest far bigger than that of Hishammuddin Hussein and has been lucky that the opposition does not attack him as much as they do other UMNO leaders. PAS does not understand Khairy’s complex ways of raising secret funds through corporate exercises for the simple reason that the best economists in PAS such as Dr Rosli Yaakob, Husam Musa and Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad are second-rate businessmen, more in tune with the inner workings of goat’s milk pills rather than high finance. DAP, too, is too far removed from the world of GLCs to understand the intricacies of Khairy’s deals. Anwar Ibrahim’s group does not know very much about what is going on as well; other than the few things which should be kept hidden in case Khairy proves a valuable ally in the efforts to bring Anwar back into UMNO’s fold.
Meanwhile, while the political opposition continues to sleep soundly, Khairy has been making more deals. The recent purchase of 3% of ECM Libra is in preparation towards the company acquiring more and more deals to sell off other government ‘non-core assets’. It would be difficult to explain payments made to Khairy (which are enormous) if he was merely an employee rather than a shareholder of ECM Libra.
One thing for sure, 2006 will see the beginning of the process to remove some financial tools that Khairy needed before to give a perception of reform but are now only obstacles to his future success. The end of 2006 will see Binafikir founder and Khazanah Managing Director Azman Mokhtar’s final contract year. Soon he will not be needed anymore and Khairy would either assume that role himself or appoint one of his chosen boys currently on the second level of the Khazanah management to be the seat warmer while he strips that institution of its crown jewels.
Likewise, Second Finance Minister Nor Mohamed Yakcop has gone past his sell-by date. The smooth-talking castrati, with an appetite for tear-jerking poetry has served his purpose in securing the image of transparency and good corporate governance in major government-owned businesses. Now Khairy feels the country is more prepared to let a younger man take that role — obviously a younger man who is pliant to Khairy. Nor Mohamed will be removed as Second Finance Minister no later than the end of 2006.
Whatever happens in 2006, it will be Khairy’s year to make sure that his dream becomes a reality. The short-term objectives as stated above are the prelude to Khairy securing a parliamentary seat, probably in a by-election sometime in 2007, and entering the cabinet almost immediately after the 12th General Election. The countdown to Khairy assuming the Prime Ministership of the country, which began only around four years ago, has now less than a decade to run. Khairy is not wasting any time and neither should his enemies. At the moment, the odds are on Khairy making the cut while his opponents seem headed towards having themselves sacrificed upon his political altar…
The Truth About Khairy Jamaluddin continues…in Part 24 – Khairy Chronicles in review