Saturday, December 15th 2018. Write this down in your diaries because this is the day The Rembau Times predicts that MP for Rembau, YB Khairy Jamaluddin will become Prime Minister by 2022 at the young age of 46 years old.
However, this will not be a coronation.
Instead it will be a road filled with pitfalls, hard knocks and back breaking labour.
He will first have to succed Dr Zahid Hamidi as UMNO President, bring on board the ultraconservatives to his cause, neutralize the anti Khairy faction, rejuvenate UMNO, check the advance of PAS, relaunch BN and lastly prevail in the Battle for GE 15 against the Government of the day.
In this article, we explore the first hurdle KJ must cross which is to win over his enemies to his cause.
In UMNO, there is still sharp division over KJ as a future Prime Minister. This is natural because KJ’s worldview is antithetical to the conservative faction. It may even be the case that some would rather vote PAS than vote for UMNO if KJ were President. Some division leaders are openly hostile and will forbid their members from meeting with him.
So how does KJ solve this?
The trick behind this is to engage with the smartest most acidic tongue anti Khairy leader out there and they don’t come any smarter, louder and more obnoxious than outspoken UMNO pundit, Zahrain Mohd Yassin.
Ever since the fall of UMNO, Zahrain had emerged as a Youtube sensation. He regularly broadcasts usinf Facebook live on current political affairs from his MPV. In his format he will offer his views on the current issues facing UMNO as well as take questions raised by viewers.
But be forewarned for asking a question he deems silly.
The 66 year old pundit will give it back ten times , over as one poor soul found out when he asked the seemingly innocuous question on how come some UMNO MPs who defected were willing to join up with Tun whom they had derided earlier.
Zahrain’s viewership is very very strong. Each of his Youtube videos has about 60,000 – 70,000 views, and these are mainly from UMNO grassroots and supporters who are dumbfounded at the current state of affairs. In terms of social media perspective, Zahrain is an “influencer” over the anti Khairy segment in UMNO. It is pointless for KJ to just draw on the young folk, he must broaden his appeal to the bedrock of UMNO supporters in order to become an effective President. Remember, don’t preach to the converted.
What makes Zahrain stand out is that he actually is very very smart and has over 40 years of experience in UMNO. For example, he had correctly forseen that UMNO will be devastated by the 1MDB issue. He also saw that the PH coalition will find it difficult to govern because of the differing ideologies. And he currently is saying, and The Rembau Times agrees, that public anger against PH is growing day by day.
Interestingly, though he is extremely smart, he is regarded as a persona non granta by many in UMNO leadership. For example, his offer of advice to the UMNO President, Doc Hamidi, was spurned even though Zahrain has known him for years.
So how should KJ handle him?
That is exactly the wrong question. You do not handle Zahrain Mohd Yassin. You do not walk up, rub his belly or give him a hug and hope he will be your friend.
Rather the question is how should KJ engage him. KJ needs to be firm and flexible on his views. KJ must do his homework and actually watch his Youtube videos and figure out what is his view and whether he agrees oe disagrees with it. One way would be to invite him to do a live Facebook discussion either with KJ or with some other UMNO MPs. But in order to do this, KJ must be prepared to take criticism and not get angry. Zahrain will humiliate and harass but he must be deferential to a party elder. There are valid grievances some in the party have about him and his liberal ways.
His mission, if he chooses to accept it, is to develop the political skill to make your ideological enemies least gain your respect and you gain theirs. That is what makes a great President.