Shahril Hamdan: Party Ignored Young Voice, So Barisan Nasional Lost

MALAYSIA BAHARU

Shahril Hamdan: Party Ignored Young Voice, So Barisan Nasional Lost

Despite not lacking young technocrats, BN went into GE14 fielding too few young candidates and was soundly rejected. AWANI Review talks to Shahril Hamdan, one of Umno’s bright young stars who felt the pain of defeat at the polls.

Look no further than to superstar Bono to explain the seeds of BN’s rejection at the polls.

“This is a time for bold measures. This is the country, and you are the generation.” These words were uttered by U2 front man Bono 14 years ago when delivering a speech to the graduating class of 2004 at the University of Pennsylvania where he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law Degree.

It could well have been taken to refer to his call for youths to come to the fore and that this was their time. BN’s bosses failed to heed this call apparently. Funny how, almost a decade and half later, these words still ring true, especially with the recent 14th Malaysian General Elections still fresh in mind.

Barisan Nasional’s defeat in GE14 came as a great shock to many Malaysians.

In the immediate search for reasons to explain the defeat, it is the party’s youth wing that appears to be offering any credible excuses – that UMNO failed to promote its coterie of capable technocrats from the ranks of its Youth Wing to contest GE14 as BN candidate.

The voices of young leaders seeking for the opportunity to contest was on a crescendo, but ultimately not loud enough to secure a place on the ballot papers

From within the party itself, the voices of young leaders seeking for the opportunity to contest was on a crescendo, but ultimately not loud enough to secure a place on the ballot papers.

In the event, both sides of the divide pulled out all the stops and fielded incredibly talented and determined young men and women to woo the voting public with their energy and zest for a better Malaysia. Several stood out but none more so than Shahril Hamdan, BN’s candidate for the Kuala Langat Parliamentary seat.

A Chevening scholar with undergrad and post grad degrees from University of Manchester and the London School of Economics and Political Science respectively, this eloquent 32-year-old had an early start in politics.

His first job was working in the political office of UMNO Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin who his legions of fans simply refer to as KJ.

Discounting KJ’s unfortunate remarks trying to explain UMNO Youth’s failure to respond to 1MDB charges of wrongdoing levelled at BN chief Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in the run up to GE14, that association rubbed on Shahril; if only in eloquence in public presentation and youthful vigor.

At such a young age, Shahril has already been associated with several jobs that would paint a very capable and credible picture of him. Google him and soon you will find his sparkly CV that includes organization’s such as Teach For Malaysia and Destini Oil Services in senior corporate positions.

Being close to the corridors of political and corporate power, it was widely assumed that it was going to be just a matter of time that this father-to-be (at the time of press) would soon emulate KJ.

And yet, he lost. To a juggernaut, nonetheless. PKR Vice President, Dr. Xavier Jayakumar obliterated Shahril’s hopes for the seat with a majority of 17,112 votes. Is this a case of the legend versus the debutant? Perhaps.

But during our catch up with him, Shahril shares with us how he feels about the changes that need to happen within the previously unstoppable BN and how the underrepresentation of the young as compared to the Pakatan Harapan front was one of the biggest mistakes the party made. 

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