Dynamics of UMNO Youth to Change? Pak Lah's Nephew Aims for Top Post
Saturday, Kuala Lumpur - Another heavyweight-linked candidate is discovered in the Malay political landscape of Malaysia. Irwan Ambak, son of the late Tun Endon Mahmood's brother, who confirmed his candidacy to vie for UMNO Youth head position, makes it a 5-cornered challenge posed to the incumbent and Youth & Sports Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin--whom everyone knows is also the son-in-law of former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Badawi--defending the post.
In a statement made earlier, Irwan who is a London School of Economics & Political Science graduate said that, in heeding the Prime Minister's call, the time has come for Malaysia's youth--especially the Malays--to reconcile, having been increasingly politically polarised in spite of UMNO Youth efforts under the tenure of its leadership for the past 4 years. "We acknowledge the new mandate given to UMNO President Dato' Seri Najib continuing as Prime Minister, but other figures in the party components are answerable to Barisan Nasional's weaknesses manifested in the last General Election, and it is only rational for us to identify one of the changes required by looking at the young Malay votes that went to the opposition."
Explaining why he has offered to lead UMNO Youth, Irwan pointed out to his agenda of uniting Malaysian youths from all political divides, especially through nationwide programs and national policies he has in store to propose to Najib's adminstration, as youth leader in the ruling party of a Malay-majority country. "Nevertheless, my proposition will benefit & be welcomed by all citizens, safeguard our nation's future sovereignty and complement the country's high income aspiration. The economy is on everyone's agenda, and we need solid foundations to ensure this especially for the youth - our future. Malaysia will be a model to the modern world and I would even venture to say that our pioneering projects could be emulated elsewhere." He said that his last posting as Malaysia & Asia representative for the World Islamic Mint lends him national credibility, whilst still being in touch with the grass-roots community around the country.
In his statement, he went on to briefly summarise a pledge to immediately introduce a two-pronged plan if chosen to lead. For income earners, a national policy to allow retirement contributions in gold, and for traders, open access to new markets. On the gold policy, he said, "With a potential project valuation of RM 500 Billion, this will create new industries, new jobs and new opportunities for many parties to participate, whilst preserving the rights & reserves of salaried employees, offered to both private sector workers & civil servants - specifically young working adults seeking long-term security in an uncertain global economic climate." On the 'open markets' he said, "It's amazing what you can do with idle plots, turning them into thriving centres of commercial activity with a little bit of imagination and incentive - just the encouragement needed for budding entrepreneurs." He added, "These dual initiative alone will cover almost the entire youth population" as he continues to promise thorough & transparent details along with open discussion of his plans.
On whether his relationship to Pak Lah bears any weight on his standing and acceptance within UMNO Youth circles, he said that he respects all past & current UMNO leaders, and unlike others, carries no 'baggage' to his disadvantage, and neither has he anything to do with issues surrounding the supposed factional split in the past UMNO Youth election nor is he affiliated to any 'camps'. On his attempted big jump to the leadership post, he says UMNO Youth should be intelligent enough to appreciate quantum leaps offered by promising aspirants over mediocrity that would only further marginalise the movement. On the scourge of money politics rampant in UMNO's past and whether this will affect his prospects, he stressed that UMNO members must choose leaders based on strengthening the organisation's future and not selfish practices, a situation that he says will improve with new procedures in place for the coming party elections. "If corruption reigns unabated, what use are such tainted leaders chosen internally, but externally, the public rejects them in the next General Election and BN loses all".
Irwan is currently the UMNO Youth Head of Bukit Setiawangsa Branch. His most visible political participation was campaigning for Barisan National during the 12th General Election under Badawi's tenure, but he remained under the radar for the most part after that, focusing on his professional pursuits. UMNO will hold party elections for the Youth Wing on October 12th.