A tempered view

Hanging out at a kenduri in Kg Gadong

It’s the eve of nomination day (Feb 23). Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin, 32, and his campaign team have descended on Rembau, Negeri Sembilan, to prepare for nomination and to press the flesh. The Barisan Nasional Youth deputy chairman and Rembau Umno Youth chief will be contesting for the parliamentary seat here. Danny Lim tags along to observe how the first-time general election candidate touches base with local folk. He managed to get a quick exclusive interview during a kenduri at Khairy’s family home in Kampung Gadong, Rembau, today. The following is an excerpt from that interview (more to come later).

What kind of issues would you like to push if you win the election and become a parliamentarian?
I’d like to have a clear discussion on inter-ethnic relations and where we’re going in the future… talk about places of worship for non-Muslims, talk about the whole issue of how non-Muslims feel. It will take some time, we need to convince non-Muslims we’re sincere about this and we have to convince the Malays, especially in Umno, that this doesn’t threaten them.

How do you propose to do that?
We have to be able to strengthen ourselves first to make people believe us. Sometimes it’s how you sequence it. Sometimes people see what I do and they don’t understand it. But we must strengthen ourselves to our base first, and then they’ll go with us where we want to take them. But if you don’t strengthen your base, and you suddenly give them all these ideas which are alien to them… nobody’s going to follow you.

At heart I think I’m a moderate Malaysian politician. My views are not urban, they’re not liberal, they’re modern and perhaps progressive. They are borne of somebody who lives in urban areas, but after nine years in politics, it’s been tempered by what I’ve seen in the countryside and rural areas, it’s been tempered by certain realities of politics on the ground. And while the idealism remains, I’ve had to look beyond the three square miles that is Bangsar and Coffee Bean. For a lot of armchair writers and critics, that is their world. That isn’t my world. My world is from Padang Besar, straight down to Pontian all the way to Kota Belut in Sabah.

We need greater empathy. Just as much as Umno needs to empathise more with non-Muslims who feel threatened today by what they perceive as encroaching Islamism and all that, at the same time, the Chinese community has to empathise also with the Malay community who still has a hang-up about economic achievement, who still needs assistance, who still cherishes the NEP (New Economic Policy).

After all this, I hope to sit down and write something about empathy and that is the greatest value or virtue that Malaysians need going forward.

See Letters to the Editor

Khairy’s entourage. Photos by Danny Lim

Local folk in Kampung Gadong, Rembau

Prayers held at the family home for Khairy’s candidacy

Khairy and Nori Abdullah at the kenduri

23 responses to “A tempered view”

  1. My comment may not be about the article, but it touches one of the biggest problems we face in Malaysia, enforcement of law, unconditionally. Look at the vehicles in the entourage. All are heavily tinted. Everyone know it is an offence. This is just a small example. To quote fro ANIMAL FARM “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal”.

  2. One could read this type of story any day in the mainstream Malaysian press. It adds nothing to the national conversation to hear more pablum from the ruling party.

    Candidate Khairy is “touch[ing] base with the local folk.” Really? I am curious what types of conversations he fielded at the kenduri at his “family home.” Perhaps the author could elaborate.

    Khairy seems to find trouble communicating with the Malaysian public; if only the latter would just see things as he does. For him, the process of talking and understanding is paramount. He fails to recognize that the problem is not a lack of communication — this process has been going on for more than half a century — but that communication is always one-sided: his party does the talking (“give…ideas”) and the rest “follow”.

    (The photos of him travelling with an entourage of black vehicles with dark tinted windows was a nice visual touch to the article.)

    He says, “I hope to sit down and write something about empathy and that is the greatest value or virtue that Malaysians need going forward.”

    Spare us, please. The Malaysian media (including, unfortunately, this web site) already provides us with plenty of this vapid discourse.


    Editor’s note: Please see response in Letters to the Editor

  3. 2 things caught my attention
    (1)inter-ethnic relations. Ha! Your FIL scrapped inter-faith talks here but when overseas says such discussion is necessary. Why the double-speak!
    (2) Malays still cherish the NEP. Hei if I get assistance from the womb to the tomb. I’ll feel the same, but have you spared a thought about how it is bleeding the country dry. This is the only country in the world where the majority get affirmative assistance. Just like you getting a leg-up from Libra. Help the poor by all means and that means the poor from every race!

  4. What use has the Oxfordian’s talents in a rural setting like Rembau? Would it not be far better served and appreciated in an urban setting wehre he would fit in naturally, unlike now when he has to put on an act just to show that he fits in. Or does he think it would be quite alright to fit in sometime before the next election maybe. In any case the job for the Parliamentarian is served in the parliament. His constituency only furnishes him his guidelines. So really the question to ask is how are they going to do that, or for that matter even know that laws are being made and changed wihtout their input at all?

  5. New Economic Policy is to eradicate poverty at all level and not specifically for the benefit of Umnoputra.Unless KJ understand it and practice by the government of the day,NEP is just an excuse to enrich a selected few and what is left is distributed to certain group just to ensure the votes keep coming in during election.

  6. Nothing new in your report.

    Danny is only ‘redo’ what others have done enough to ‘popularise’ this young man.

  7. Don’t you think KJ looks more like a wannabe popstar driving in those blacked out 4×4 SUVS than a politician? These cars surely costs more than the RM200,000 campaigning expenditure allowed?!

  8. Let his oxford talents stay with rembau..and what to comment when you are in family home surrounding.close relatives and friends say ‘yes’ to KJ.

  9. I agree with KJ on one ground, which is on the need to touch ground with the rural constituent. They are the core main votes of the country are from the rural areas. To win over these powerful voting block, we need to contextualize the issues that concern the urban voters to their local needs. We can scream until we become blue on our issues but once we make it relevant to them only then the other political party (DAP and PKR) have a winning chance.

  10. are the expenditure on the cars LEGAL? looks like a lot of money. isnt there a limit on expenditure???

  11. Nice cars, but 2 questions (a) is the tinting legal? and (b) who purchased the cars and where did the money come from. Has there been any impropriety since KJ had said that he sold his shares in a PLC at a discount, where is he getting the money to buy these cars or have these cars been “donated”?

  12. Looking forward to more on this interview.. and more from Malaysia votes. I appreciate the seemingly neutral views so far, which I don’t think ppl get when they think ‘alternative media’ HAS to be skewed to the opposition. But even coming from a position of neutrality…I hope for hardkicking, quality interviews and analysis. All the best!

  13. Action Not only in election.Talk less non-productive topic in public, we will said ” thank you ” and will vote u lah

  14. Your reporting seem to be to familiar. I wonder why? KJ speaks about inter-ethnic discourse. The need to sit and talk and remove the religious ambiguities. You have had 50 years to do that and you are asking 50 more? Malaysians are not that naive! By the way, talking about leading by example, look at the heavy tint! I wonder what the JPJ officers are doing!

  15. His comments are inspirational, his outlook rather visionary from the text of his interview but it seriously lacks specificity, worn-out and to general. It sounds like a boy who just dropped by the area who had no aforethought of his plan as an MP wannabe

  16. I hope you would write more about and highlight those candidates who really stand up for justice and want to serve the people. Some of these candidates have been giving and donating all the time out of their own income, self-sacrificially for about 20 years or more. they do their best but they have many obstacles.

    Please highlight their uphill task in running for the election, in their quest for justice and fight against corruption.

    This approach will give fresh reading for the voters and also you are using writing to serve the cause of justice and peace for the long term good of the nation and every citizen. With less corruption, fewer cars will be stolen, fewer houses will be broken into , fewer people will experience snath theft and become victims of crime.
    Hope your writing would be translated also as comaparatively few Malaysian voters read English…

  17. I would like to comment on the unfairness on news rendered to BN and oppositions on the MSM where we receive only one-sided writeup about BN component parties. Congratulations and Thanks to Malaysia votes for the unbiased views. It helps me understand how to vote for my MP and I will inform my relatives and friends to read this website. Guys/Gals– Good job keep it going and let’s see changes for good to rakyat(Malaysian Malaysia)