& The Edge Malaysia
Date: 13 & 14 October 2013
Navaratnam: Khairy the right choice
by Azril Annuar
PETALING JAYA (Oct 13): Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam finds the Umno Youth election result to be refreshing, saying the re-election of Khairy Jamaluddin as the movement's chief signifies progress amongst the party's youth.
The Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute (ASLI) director said Khairy's re-election reflects a "lively democracy" in Umno which will lead to a more "progressive, enlightened policies and an assurances of more effective leadership".
"I am impressed with his choice because he is not an extremist Umno type. He is a moderate and he is much more Malaysian in his outlook that many other more senior Umno leaders.
"And it's a good sign; it augurs well for the future because it shows that the Umno youth favour a moderate, balanced and intellectual leader who is not an extreme Malay or Bumiputera," he said when contacted by fz.com.
"And that is the kind of leadership and culture we need, more Malaysian than racial based, for now and especially the future," added the chairman of ASLI's Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS).
However, Navaratnam's impression of Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil's re-election as Wanita Umno chief was more along the lines of the lesser of two evils.
"If there were no other scandals (among Umno leaders) then she would be in trouble. But there are so many scandals on financial mismanagement and the Auditor General's Report has highlighted recently.
"So a lot of delegates would ask, what else is new?" Navaratnam commented when asked on Shahrizat's victory despite the NFC skeleton lying in her closet.
"Most of them are the same and some, worse than others. So, in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king. They (some Umno leaders) are seen to be corrupt and are non-compliance with good governance, so it is a matter of degrees between who is better and who is worse.
"That's why she hasn't paid her price. But if everyone was clean and she stands out then she would have lost. But as she herself has said: 'Allegations of impropriety against me, what about others?'
"So she was proven right. When it comes to politics, the choice is always a lesser of two evils," Navaratnam said.
He further pointed out that the problem stems from the grass-root voters who are not trained or exposed to better governance at the local government level, thus they do not exercise their power to vote responsibly due to lack of experience.
"Choices like this always relate to the overall environment, that's why we need local government elections. Otherwise you will have competitive choices but not the best choices," he said.
Wanita PKR chief Zuraida Kamaruddin also questioned the Umno women's wing's choice in electing their leader, wondering whether they realise the implication of their decision.
"I think that it rather unfortunate that the women of Umno still do not realize the implications of reinstating Sharizat as the Wanita Umno chief. If this rot is allowed to continue, our country's coffers will be plundered further without regards to our children's future.
"With the country's current dilemma of diminishing economic strength even within the Southeast Asia region, we must seriously consider reversing the situation through serious reform and proper administration. That means electing clean and responsible leaders to lead the country," Zuraida said in a statement.
She was unapologetically scathing in her remarks pointing out that Shahrizat should have apologised to the public over the NFC fiasco involving the latter's husband, Datuk Seri Mohamad Salleh Ismail.
"How is it possible for a wife whose family members are directors in a public-funded company to be ignorant about large amounts being channelled into her family as personal assets without her knowledge?
"Her husband is the chairperson of the NFC while their three children hold executive positions in the company. Her family had abused the public's trust by using the government's soft loan to NFCorp which amounted to RM250 million.
"Her husband had purchased luxury condominiums, premium land, a luxury car as well as spending on items unrelated to cattle farming, while the NFCorp was found to be making a loss in company operations. Her husband and three children would never have been the directors of NFCorp if not because of Sharizat," Zuraida claimed.
However, a close friend of Shahrizat and senior Wanita Umno member said that the final decision still rested with the delegates.
"You may think that they are just makcik-makcik (aunts) from the kampung (village or rural areas). From the last count I heard that Datuk Seri (Shahrizat) has won by a landslide of more than 170 votes.
"We cannot force the delegates to choose Datuk Seri. This shows that they trust Datuk Seri and believe in her work. If they didn't want her, they would have kicked her out," said the senior member who requested that anonymity.
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