KUALA LUMPUR: Khairy Jamaluddin has acknowledged turning down offers by Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to take up top positions in the party, saying he wanted to be the independent voice within Umno.
The former Umno Youth chief said while he remained a party member, he did not want to be tied to the party's decisions for the time being.
"I'm still with Umno, but let me have some freedom to air my thoughts independently. Its good for the party anyway.
"Let me be the independent voice. At least we can welcome a diversity of voices within the party," he told reporters at the Dewan Rakyat lobby after delivering his motion of thanks on the royal address, here, today.
Ahmad Zahid had earlier today revealed Khairy had twice turned down his offers for him to be the Barisan Nasional (BN) secretary-general and Umno Information chief, while also refusing Ahmad Zahid's offer to contest for the Umno deputy presidency during its polls last month.
When asked if he felt he would have a bigger voice if he had taken up the posts offered, Khairy said: "Really? You think so? It will then be the same thing all over again, right?"
The Rembau MP, who appeared happier than his usual self, also said today was the first time Ahmad Zahid spoke to him since the infamous BN parliament walkout last week in protest of the appointment process of Dewan Rakyat speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof.
Khairy was among only three Umno members to remain in the dewan, drawing the ire of several Umno top leaders.
"He spoke to me for the first time just now since the walkout. He asked if I was speaking today. And I said yes. But we are on good terms.
"Obviously there's a bit of tension because I stood against him (in the Umno elections) and all that. But other than that, he's like an older brother to me," he said.
Asked on his rather jovial mood today, Khairy said: "I'm happy because the Umno president spoke to me."