KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 2 — Umno information chief Shahril Hamdan has urged the party to give Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz a chance to prove his value following his appointment as Selangor Barisan Nasional (BN) treasurer, lauding it as a bold move that could help the ruling coalition recapture the state once considered its most-prized jewel.
Shahril, currently director of the economic division within the Prime Minister’s Office, suggested Tengku Zafrul’s cosmopolitan personality and vast experience as a corporate captain could bring a fresh perspective to the coalition as it looks to upend Pakatan Harapan dominance in Selangor, where BN has failed to make any significant inroads since it was ousted in 2008.
Still, the Umno information chief conceded that Tengku Zafrul’s appointment could upset certain factions within the party. But he said Tengku Zafrul should still be given a chance, reminding them that any contribution would be good for the party.
“I welcome the appointment as a bold move on the part of BN Selangor and as evident in Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s speech, a bold move endorsed by the very top too,” Shahril said in a text message to Malay Mail.
“I hope everyone in BN gives him a fair shake. Nobody should be jealous of his rise. We win and lose as a team and if he can contribute, great. If he can’t, what’s the harm? We need a game changer in Selangor and if we don’t have the guts to try new things and take some risks, what’s the point?”
Tengku Zafrul was announced as the new Selangor BN treasurer on Sunday, replacing Umno Sungai Besar division chief Datuk Seri Jamal Md Yunos.
Jamal, meanwhile, has been appointed Selangor BN communications chief. The appointment has added more fuel to speculation that Tengku Zafrul could be contesting in the 15th general election.
The announcement was made by state BN chairman Tan Sri Noh Omar during his speech at the closing ceremony for the Selangor BN convention and dinner in the presence of BN chairman Ahmad Zahid.
Malay Mail understands that some in Umno view Tengku Zafrul negatively, citing his upper-class upbringing as a liability to a party whose power base consists mostly of poor to low-middle income Malays.
Shahril acknowledged such concerns but argued that the party should judge the finance minister on merits.
“It’s easy to knock the guy if you want. Call him a banker, call him an out-of-touch elite. But who among us doesn’t have some real or perceived image baggage? We should judge him fairly,” he said.
“He’s had to bear the brunt of dealing with some difficult economic decisions over the past two-and-a-half years and not without some noteworthy successes.
Tengku Zafrul has been a long-time Umno member but has stayed out of active politics; however, Shahril said that could work in the coalition’s favour.
“He’s had a stellar career in the private sector and brings a fresh perspective to a sometimes-unidimensional party. Secondly, despite that apparent new arrival status, the guy has shown surprising political acumen,” he told Malay Mail.