Wednesday, February 18, 2009

All about the youth

With just over 30 days to the National UMNO Elections, the contests for posts from Deputy President to the last Puteri Exco seat are heating up. But for many, one to particularly watch out for is that for Youth Head of the party.

Amongst the three candidates vying for the prize that has been occupied by no less a figure than incoming President Dato' Seri Najib Tun Razak, one individual stands out through his age, character and campaign platform.

Khairy Jamaluddin has just turned 33, and is the only candidate under the age of 40. Some have said that this fact may not be relevant for UMNO Youth, seeing as to how the wing has traditionally been headed by persons over 40. But recent trends suggest that there has been a substantive change in how the party is perceived by younger voters – a change that calls for, among others, a generational rejuvenation. Without this generational shift in the leadership of UMNO Youth, then clearly the thirst for change have yet to reach the doors of the wing.

Some elaboration is necessary. Khairy has on occasions argued that it takes a youth to bestunderstand the aspirations and concerns of the below-40 segment. Whilst this may be a valid argument, it does not capture the more fundamental need to move away from the generation of outgoing Youth Head Dato' Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein – Hishammuddin has done much to rebuild the wing from the ashes of 1999 but the demands of the day require a new approach to how UMNO Youth operates. A young face would send all the right signals to the younger generation that UMNO is serious in rebranding itself to becoming a party that no longer preaches to the youth, but elevates one of them. The slogan Pemuda untuk Pemuda is thus, quite fitting.

They say age is just a number; at least in this case though, Khairy's non-political personality and character exudes youth-ness puts some doubt into that cliché. Having a penchant for contemporary music, football and even fashion, he represents much of what UMNO Youth should look like if it intends to woo the post-Merdeka generation of young voters who yearn for a movement they can identify with. Who else in the race but Khairy can even come close to being 'one of us'?

But perhaps what encapsulates Khairy's synonymy with Malaysia's youth is his campaign message of inclusivity and empathy. Tired of years of zero-sum, communal-centric politics of confrontation, Khairy's"Setiakawan" message promises to bring about a radical shift in the UMNO Youth narrative, a movement traditionally associated with being the right-wing conscience of the larger party. Voting figures show that chest-thumping Malay ultraism simply will not work anymore amongst young Malaysians who have grown up in relative peace and prosperity; UMNO Youth under the helm of Khairy will stand a better chance of recapturing the imagination of young Malaysians who have no guilt for feeling Malaysian first and foremost, or for sanctifying the ideals of justice and democracy. This last point was best demonstrated during the program Hujah at Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka on 18 February when Khairy stuck to a centrist position on matters such as ISA and race relations whereas the two other candidates competed with one another to portray a traditional ultra Malay face. Khairy also displayed maturity in his critique of the government – defending the institution's fundamental strengths whilst acknowledging there was room for improvement vis a vis implementation of policies. Such sophistication was lacking in both other candidates who felt no shame in slamming UMNO, BN and the Government on national television.

This contest is no less than a contest for the party's future. The delegates must wise up to the reality that UMNO no longer commands the support of the majority of under-40s and elect the man with the right age and right message to ensure UMNO's survival.

9 comments:

A friend said...

Question is can KJ 'reconnect' the youth back to support the govt of today? True, he is the most relevant, getting there is hard but doing the job is another. It is a shit storm out there. My say is let one of the 2 other goons come in, take it all up like a cannon fodder, and then KJ comes in to clear up the mess smelling like roses.

SUKJ said...

Salam Bro,

1. Saya berpegang pada FAKTA dan REALITI.

2. Fakta - Syarat utama untuk menjadi ahli 'Pemuda UMNO' usianya mesti di bawah 40 tahun.

3. Realiti - Maka lebih relevan jika Ketua Pemuda UMNO juga mesti berusia di bawah 40 tahun.

BRO JINGGO said...

Salam Bro...

Like Padedoh say... "More and more people begin to support KJ"

Ayuh… marilah kita semua ketepikan sebarang tanggapan yang kurang elok terhadap beliau. Kita fikirkan secara rasional.

Beliau amat-amat berkemampuan untuk mengambil alih tugas yang bakal ditinggalkan oleh YB Dato’ Seri Hishamuddin Tun Hussien sebagai Ketua Pemuda UMNO.

Insya’ Allah sekiranya YB Khairy Jamaluddin berjaya dalam pemilihan kelak, Pergerakan Pemuda UMNO akan kembali perkasa dalam menjadi tulang belakang perjuangan UMNO itu sendiri.

Senapang Patah said...

Mukhriz perlu banyak belajar lagi. Sudah lah SPM dulu Gred 3, hujah dan pemikirannya seakan-akan budak sekolah. Hujah yang tak konsisten, yang tidak masuk akal dan tidak selari antara satu sama lain wajar merisaukan para perwakilan. Ketua Pemuda UMNO sekarang ini perlu hebat dan bijak, bukan yang penakut dan kelam kabut. Tapi bagi kami seronok pula tgk mukhriz berhujah...

Macam seronok tengok George W Bush sebab kelakar.

Dax Muhamad (Daxo) & Zuhri Aziz (Mando) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hang Tegar said...

One of the first things I think young people, especially nowadays, should learn is how to see for themself and listen for themself and think for themself. Then they can come to an intelligent decision for themself. If they form the habit of going by what they hear others say about someone, or going by what others think about someone, instead of searching that thing out for themself and seeing for themself, they will be walking west when they think ther are going east, and they will be walking east when they think they are going west.

This generation, especially of our people, has a burden, more so than any other time in history. The most important thing that we can learn to do today is think for ourselves - as the young generation. Therefore, its PEMUDA FOR PEMUDA

BRO JINGGO said...

Khairy Jamaluddin telah melaksanakan tugas beliau sebagai Naib Ketua Pemuda UMNO dengan baik dan telah menjalinkan hubungan yang rapat dengan ahli-ahli Pemuda UMNO Malaysia .

Tidak ada sebab beliau yang berjaya melaksanakan tanggungjawab walaupun terpaksa menempuh berbagai dugaan dalam kerjaya piolitik beliau tidak mampu untuk memenangi kerusi Ketua Pemuda UMNO Malaysia.

Kepada semua calon-calon perwakilan pemuda buat lah pilihan yang bijak dalam menentukan siapakah bakal ketua anda… jangan nilaikan anak siapa.. menantu siapa… anda sendiri menilaikan pucuk kepimpinan… dan saya yakin lagi cukup percaya.. pewakilan adalah daripada golongan yang cerdik pandai dalam menilai siapakah yang bakal akan menjadi ketua mereka.. ketepikan lah buat sementara budaya bodek membodek dalam memilih siapakah yang bakal menerajui pemuda UMNO Malaysia…

AYAM MIRAK said...

Khairy is the BEST! BEST EVER! He dont need no botok like Toyo and got more hair than Mukhriz. He is also taller. And probably smells better. Ok... all in all, a sure success come March. Congrats

BRO JINGGO said...

Salam Ziarah

Hidup ini adalah perjuangan… Syukur Alhamdulillah walaupun pelbagai cabaran, dugaan dan rintangan yang harus YB KJ tempuhi, namun perjuangannya diberkati Allah, Allah memimpin YB KJ untuk memimpin dengan kepimpinan yang diredhai. Justeru, marilah kita sama-sama memberi sokongan yang padu kepada YB KJ menerusi laman web YB KJ http://www.rembau.net.my/

Salam setiakawan

Salam Perjuangan

BJ