Khairy to Dr M: Help wash off my 'fourth-floor boys' label, please

PETALING JAYA: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Khairy Jamaluddin appeared to bury the hatchet on their decades-long rivalry when both were in Umno in the early 2000s.

“I am currently in the healing process (with Dr Mahathir),” the former Umno Youth chief joked during his interview with the former prime minister in the latest episode of “Keluar Sekejap” on Monday (Nov 13).

Khairy and Dr Mahathir had regularly clashed when the former was an aide for ex-Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi between 2004 to 2008.

In his interview, Khairy described the friction between Dr Mahathir and Abdullah's administration as differences of opinion over policies such as the Singapore-Malaysia crooked bridge and the sale of Malaysian-owned motorcycle company MV Agusta.

In his latest memoir, ”A Doctor in the House”, Dr Mahathir also wrote that he was disappointed with Abdullah for canceling a KTMB double-tracking project.

Dr Mahathir's anger with Abdullah, who is Khairy's father-in-law, would lead the former to publicly criticise his predecessor and push for the latter's resignation.

He had also accused Khairy of having an out-sized influence on Abdullah and branded the latter and his team as the “fourth-floor boys” after their suite of offices in the Prime Minister's Department.

“To this day, that label has still stuck with me and I hope you can help wash it off,” Khairy joked in their interview, which was aired on Monday on Youtube.

When asked by Khairy why “didn't you like me,” Dr Mahathir said that Khairy had contested against his son for the Umno Youth chief's post.

“People told me that your mother-in-law had campaigned for you," added Dr Mahathir.

Khairy had contested against Dr Mahathir's son Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mohamad and won his first term as the Umno Youth chief in 2005.

However, the usually candid Dr Mahathir declined to elaborate on the second part of that statement - that Abdullah's wife, the late Datuk Seri Endon Mahmud, had campaigned for Khairy.

“Let's not talk about that,” when Khairy asked Dr Mahathir to elaborate.

Dr Mahathir however, recounted how he was ambivalent about Abdullah from the very beginning despite choosing the latter to succeed him as the prime minister in 2003.

When Dr Mahathir was first challenged as the Umno president in 1987 by ex-Finance Minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, Abdullah had supported Tengku Razaleigh even though he was part of Dr Mahathir's Cabinet.

Abdullah would subsequently be elected to the party's supreme council and become one of three Umno vice-presidents, and it was because of this that Dr Mahathir continued to appoint the latter to the Cabinet.

“So when the post of Deputy Prime Minister was vacant, I made him the DPM with the realisation that he will be PM even though he had supported Tengku Razaleigh.”

But within two weeks after becoming prime minister, Abdullah had canceled the Singapore bridge and the double-tracking project which he had initially promised to Dr Mahathir would be continued.

“So I was disappointed. He promised. So I thought to myself, Abdullah still hates me but he promised and he did not fulfill his promises. That was what made me disappointed.”

In response, Khairy then defended the policies of Abdullah's administration.

“In defense, despite whatever policy differences we had there was never any criminal element (during Abdullah's government). I myself have been investigated and to this day, there has been nothing criminal”.

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