Umno Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin in an interview with Berita Harian Associate Editor (current affairs) Kadir Dikoh at NSTP media centre in Putra World Trade Centre. Pic by ASWADI ALIAS

KUALA LUMPUR: Only time will tell the possibility of Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin contesting for the party vice-president post.

However, at the same time, he wants party members at all levels to not think too much about party election, but instead, focus on the upcoming 14th General Election (GE14).

Below is the excerpt of the special interview for the 2017 Umno General Assembly with Khairy, titled "Is KJ ready for vice-president post?", by Berita Harian Associate Editor (current affairs) Kadir Dikoh.

Q: Umno members and the public out there are wondering if you will be contesting for the vice-presidency in next year's party election. Will you be contesting?

A: It is best we leave this to after the general election. This is after all what was decided at the Umno General Assembly, that matters regarding party election will be postponed to next year.

Q: What is your take on the motion for the president and deputy president’s posts not to be contested in the next party election?

A: We don't want the focus (on party election) and party members' focus to be disturbed with the top two posts issue. We made a decision that the posts will not be contested in order to give our full attention on GE14.

Q: Some said such a move will cause stiff competition for the vice-presidents post?

A: The vice-presidents post, since before, had always been competitive. I don't think it's a problem because the vice-presidents post is special, it's among the highest institution of leadership. We are a democratic party and we will let the delegates decide.

Q: If you decide to contest for the vice-president’s post, the Umno Youth Chief post will be vacant. Do you have anyone in mind to replace you?

A: I feel that I am ready to hand over to a new youth leader. I am confident there will be healthy competition for the post.

Q: The party president has given warning that the focus should be on GE14 and not party elections. How do you see it?

A: I take the warning as timely because we have less than six months before the general election. We can't be focusing on other things aside from winning in the general election.

Q: The problem now is that, there's already a silent, yet aggressive campaign going on at the grassroots level for party elections?

A: After this Umno General Assembly, I think it will all be stopped because of sense of urgency for us to prepare for GE14. I believe that whoever started the silent campaign before will accept the decision that has been made at the general assembly.

Q: Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein will be the most senior vice-president. What does this mean?

A: Due to Datuk Seri Hishammuddin's role and contribution to the President and Datuk Seri Zahid, I feel that it is proper to give a recognition to him by filling up the most senior vice-president post. I believe the Umno leadership and the grassroots have admitted that he is a leader who has helped the two top leaders in the government. It is only appropriate for us to give him 100 per cent support in making him a senior vice-president of the party.

Q: What is your hope for this Umno General Assembly?

A: I hope that the spirit instilled in the delegates will be carried to their respective areas once they are back. Don't just say that we want to win here. What's important is, when we go back, we must act as if we want to win. There's no use if we just keep talking. After this, after the general assembly, I, myself will go to each state ensure the youth’s machinery is solid, so that we can get all the young voters to vote for us.

Q: Recently you said that Umno Youth wants more than 40 Parliamentary and state seats to be allocated for young candidates in the next GE14. Is it still a hope or have you whispered it to the prime minister on this issue?

A: That depends on the suitability of the candidate, but the way I see it, a combination of old timers, youths, women, men and others, will show a variety.

Translated from Berita Harian

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