Politics make strange bedfellows. We see a pro-PKR website, our famous RPK’s Malaysia Today combining with a former UMNO politician Ibrahim Ali to organise a lecture delivered by none other than PKR’s Nemesis, the Grand Old Man (GOM) himself. The theme of the lecture was titled “Dialogue with Tun Dr Mahathir”.
And those attending were not only GOM’s stalwarts like former deputy home minister Megat Junid Megat Ayub and former New Straits Times editor-in-chief A Kadir Jasin but also top PAS leaders - Nasharuddin Mat Isa, Husam Musa, Mahfuz Omar and Salahuddin Ayub. I believe the DAP was also there.
In his lecture Dr Mahathir has for the first time targeted PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin. Mahathir said with his usual caustic barbs:
“Sometimes we go over (to Singapore) to play golf and pat each other on the back over every little thing, then send the son-in-law ...”
“Now, I hear that (Khazanah) has gotten the services of certain ‘experts’. These ‘experts’ would give advice as to how to do business [...] These people have experience and education, such as degrees from Oxford University …”
“So these ‘experts’ are placed on the fourth floor [...] They seem to be more powerful than the fifth floor (Abdullah’s office).”
He received thunderous approvals for his hard hitting remarks. But since when has the GOM ever been not hard hitting?
During the lecture, there were times when he couldn’t finish what he had intended to say because he would be drowned out by roars of laughter and approvals in the packed ballroom of Hulu Kelang’s Century Paradise Club. Obviously Khairy Jamaluddin is not a popular bloke, and you know the old saying, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend".
Later on, during the question-and-answer session, Mahathir lamented that Khazanah Nasional, the government investment arm, had strayed from its original mission. DAP leader Ronnie Liu, who was part of the 500-strong crowd, said Mahathir well-received comments had referred to Khairy, who has been accused of meddling in government affairs like planting his ‘friends’ in the Prime Minister’s Department.
Khairy is married to Abdullah’s only daughter Nori. He’s a graduate of Oxford university and with the PM’s backing, is viewed as the country’s most powerful young leader, as well as a future PM, which he obviously aspires to.
Dr Mahathir’s comment about Khanazah was in reference to a suggestion that Khairy be appointed the chief operating officer of Khazanah. But young Khairy had instead joined an investment bank ECM Libra as a director. The company is owned by New Straits Times group deputy chairman Kalimullah Hassan, a close sidekick of Khairy.
Late last year, it was reported that Khairy had bought RM9.2 million worth of shares in the company. I believe there’s still a court case of libel between PAS Husam Musa and young Khairy pertaining to Khairy’s ability to purchase the company. Though Khairy has threatened to sue Husam, the whole affair seems to have died down, unless it's stil simmering in the lawyers' office.
Two years ago, young Khairy has rose unusually swiftly, in fact unopposed, to become No 2 in UMNO Youth two years ago, much to the uneasiness among a sizeable portion of UMNO grassroots. They alluded his meteoric rise to nepotism. Other candidates had to "make way" for him, which explains why he had been unopposed.