November 20, 2022
KUALA LUMPUR – Popular Umno stalwart Khairy Jamaluddin has failed to flip the Sungai Buloh seat from Pakatan Harapan (PH) in a fierce seven-cornered battle, delaying his dream to become the prime minister of Malaysia one day.
Mr Khairy, a newcomer to Sungai Buloh, lost to Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s (PKR) Ramanan Ramakrishnan in the Malay-majority constituency. Official results showed the latter won 39.3 per cent of the votes, while Mr Khairy trailed by 2.1 per cent.
Mr Ramanan’s win helped PKR – which leads the PH coalition – retain control of the seat that the party has held since 2008, when the constituency was called Subang.
PKR’s R. Sivarasa, a prominent human rights activist, helmed the Sungai Buloh seat for three terms, but was replaced by Mr Ramanan in the current general election due to health issues.
Despite the 46-year old Khairy being a popular health minister, losing the Sungai Buloh seat to a lesser-known Mr Ramanan signals rejection of corruption by the voters in the semi-urban constituency.
It also reflects that even someone of Mr Khairy’s calibre cannot overcome Umno’s corruption baggage.
There is anger among Malaysians over the graft charges of several Umno leaders, including its president Zahid Hamidi, and incumbent Putrajaya MP Tengku Adnan Mansor, as well as former prime minister Najib Razak who is serving a 12-year jail term.
During the election campaign, Mr Khairy, who was the former Rembau MP, considered himself as an underdog and described the move to Sungai Buloh as the toughest fight in his political career.
Malaysian think-tank Ideas research executive Halmie Azrie Abdul Halim said Mr Khairy’s defeat shows that Umno is unable to beat PH in mixed urban seats, and the party only has the option of retreating to rural seats.
“This will also postpone Mr Khairy’s dreams of becoming prime minister. But he is still relatively young in Umno compared to the party’s warlords who are aged above 60. He can always try to contest again in the next election to accomplish his plans to become prime minister,” he added.