Khairy: Umno has ‘fallen behind times’

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KUALA LUMPUR: Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin admitted yesterday that the party had “fallen behind times” and was trailing behind the opposition in allowing young blood to take up top leadership positions.

He told the Umno Youth assembly that this trend must change, otherwise “our place will change through the young voters’ ballots”.

Khairy said in his policy speech that Umno was once a young people’s party, and “chock-full” of young blood at the very highest level.

“Unfortunately, we have fallen behind times. It is only I — the leader of Umno Youth — as the sole Cabinet minister below the age of 40,” he told the Youth wing yesterday.

In contrast, Pakatan Rakyat, including the “chauvinistic” DAP, had succeeded in attracting the young by seemingly providing opportunities to them, he said.

“Though inexperience (sic), one can become an election candidate. If we were to look in the Dewan Rakyat, there are many more young faces sitting across the aisle compared with our aisle,” Khairy said, referring to the seating arrangement of the opposition MPs in Parliament.

“If that is the trend of our political foes, where is our wow factor? Are there not enough intellectuals, gifted orators or fiery debators among the young in Umno to be elevated?

“Or do we still see the young as errand boys and extra muscle to hang up party colours and ferry voters on motorcycles every time there is an election?”

He said the party’s rejuvenation was of the highest importance, adding that if the perception existed that there was no space for young leaders, they would have no reason to join Umno.

However, Khairy denied that the youth wing was greedy in wanting positions, pointing out that the generational and demographic shift was already happening.

“What more is there to wait for, and share the wheel with us, the young. Be quick in pairing up those who are experienced with the young, all to chart our future.

“We want the voice of the youth to ring from every level of the nation’s administration.”

Khairy also congratulated Umno Youth for continuing its fight in defending the party’s dignity, and denied that they had forgotten their roots.

“When the dignity of the party is challenged with DAP calling it ‘celaka’ they were the ones at the very forefront risking arrest and prosecution — all in the name of defending the party’s honour.”

Khairy was referring to Seri Delima assemblyman RSN Rayer’s “celaka Umno” remark, which he had uttered in the state assembly against several Umno members on May 20.

Rayer’s remark led to a protest by a group of Umno Youth members outside the assembly building the following day.

The protestors became rowdy and 12 of them broke through the main gate and entered the assembly, which is a restricted area, looking for Rayer.

The intrusion into the House, which was the first incident of its kind in the country, sparked an outcry, and Barisan Nasional and Umno came under heavy criticism. — The Malaysian Insider

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on November 27, 2014.