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Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar, or KJ, is a Malaysian politician born in 1976.
He served as the federal Minister of Youth and Sports from May 2013 to May 2018, a member of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), a component of Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.
He has been a Member of Parliament (MP) representing Rembau in Negeri Sembilan since 2008 and has been the Chief of the UMNO's youth wing from 2009 to 2018. He is the son-in-law of Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Early life and education
Khairy is the only son of a former diplomat, Dato' Jamaluddin Abu Bakar, a Malay of Minangkabau origins, and Datin Dato' Rahmah Abdul Hamid, an ethnic Malay housewife of Kedahan ancestry, is a student at the University of Minangkabau.
Jamaluddin, his late father, was a senior diplomatic officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and resigned as the Malaysian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. Jamaluddin, Dato' Jamaluddin, has since died of throat cancer. Although Rahmah Abdul Hamid, Khairy's mother, has been heavily involved in volunteer service throughout her life, she was a housewife and never had a career path, and his late paternal grandfather, Abu Bakar, was a community leader in his hometown of Kampung Kota, Rembau.
Khairy was born in Kuwait City, Kuwait. He completed his secondary education at the United World College of South East Asia in Singapore and then extended his tertiary studies at Oxford University and University College London (UCL) in the United Kingdom. He studied at St Hugh's College and graduated with a bachelor's degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics while at Oxford. (PPE). He obtained his master's degree in Legal and Political Theory at UCL in 1998.
Khairy is the son-in-law of Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. In October 2001, he married Nori Abdullah (born 1976), the daughter of Abdullah's son, and his first wife, Endon Mahmood (1940–2005). Jibreil Ali (born 2007, 2006), Timor Abdullah (born 2008) and Raif Averroes (born 2015). Khairy talks about his second son, Timor, who has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Khairy spent time as a journalist after graduating from university. On the talkshow Dateline Malaysia, he appeared as a host. In 1999, he spent a time at The Economist, which was also an economist. Khairy was then a Special Officer in the office of Abdullah Badawi, who was then Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister. He served as Abdullah's Deputy Prime Minister from 2003 to 2004.
He was named as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he was ranked as a Young Global Leader. He has written for numerous publications, including The Economist, Time, and the Wall Street Journal.
During his pre-parliamentary time, he was heavily involved in football. He has held a number of key positions in Malaysia's football industry, and is active in a variety of football-related organisations. Khairy developed MyTeam, a football-based reality TV series that premiered in 2006 with radio DJ Jason Lo (with whom he attended high school in Singapore).
Khairy was elected uncontested Vice President of the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) in 2004, from 2007 to 2010, replacing Tengku Mahkota Pahang then, Tengku Abdullah Shah.
Khairy rose to prominence within UMNO and Malaysian politics as a result of his father-in-law's (2003-2009). He was deputy chief of UMNO's youth team and served as a close personal advisor to Abdullah. Both men were criticized by Khairy's assumed authority on Abdullah, as well as Abdullah's predecessor Mahathir Mohamad. Khairy replied on this allegation that "I am a very simple scapegoat." [But] Dr. Mahathir is dissatisfied with the Prime Minister and cabinet's decisions.
Khairy was elected to the federal Parliament for the seat of Rembau in Negeri Sembilan in 2008. He was elected Chief of UMNO Youth in the following year, defeating Khir Toyo and Mukhriz Mahathir.
Khairy was involved in tense policy discussions during his first term in parliament. He said that Malaysia should repeal the Printing Presses and Publications Act, as well as remove the annual Home Ministry licensing requirement, by the establishment of a separate body that would enforce a self-regulatory mechanism similar to the United Kingdom's Press Complaints Commission. He also spoke out against the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission's blocking of the Malaysia Today website, citing that the move was a "blatant and crude occupation of state power" and "is inconsistent with the widening roads of democratic highways." He also called for an end to the Mahathir-era's tradition of teaching science and mathematics in English. Khairy called for the reversal of the policy in September 2008, citing that the strategy had failed and only caused hardship to students. In public, he regularly debated non-government and opposition figures, including Ambiga Sreenevasan on the openness of the Election Commission of Malaysia (EC), senior Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), and close Anwar Ibrahim friend Rafizi Ramli on higher education loans.
After holding his parliamentary position in the 2013 general election, Prime Minister Najib Razak appointed Khairy to the Cabinet as Minister of Youth and Sports. He was re-elected to the presidency of UMNO Youth in 2013 later this year.
Malaysia successfully hosted the 2017 SEA Games as the overall gold medalist, despite his ministerial role. Khairy and his ministry had been charged with the construction of Najib's Transformasi Nasional 2050 (TN50) scheme right before the 2018 general election (GE14), but the BN federal government's fallout was postponed due to the GE14's findings. Despite keeping his parliamentary position, Khairy also lost his seat in cabinet.
Following the Sheraton Move, Khairy returned to Cabinet in March 2020 to serve as Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation under new Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's leadership. He was appointed Minister of MOSTI in Malaysia during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has signed an agreement with China for Malaysia to receive priority access to COVID-19 vaccines made in China. Khairy was appointed as the Coordinating Minister for the National COVID-19 Immunization Initiative in February 2021. He was in charge of the Special Task Force in charge of the vaccination process.