KUALA LUMPUR: In the course of his political career, Khairy Jamaluddin is certainly no longer a stranger to being the centre of attention.
His oratory skills, lean physique coupled with a killer fashion sense has helped the Youth and Sports Minister transcend beyond mere politics when it comes to his ever-expanding fanbase.
However, even he would be hard-pressed to explain the increasing level of fascination the internet has accorded to his beard of late.
What began as a sparse patch has steadily been spreading across the jaw of the youthful minister's face, much to the consternation of his adoring fans on Twitter and Facebook.
Its greying nature, his fans contend, seems at odds with his otherwise youthful demeanour.
Twitter user @dkwnn_ articulated what many people were thinking in her tweet recently:
'Kenapa janggut si khairy ni makin putih, dia muda lagi aku rasa hm'
(Why is Khairy's beard white, he's still young?).
Others Twitter users were perplexed by the fact that only his beard was white.
Queen [email protected] tweeted:
'KJ ni apehal janggut dia je putih. Dagu dia lebih byk berfikir drpd otak dia ke?'
(Why is only KJ's beard white? Does his chin do more thinking than his brain)
Khairy, who just turned 40 in January this year, is still the youngest minister in Prime Minister Najib's cabinet.
"Tak kacak" (not handsome) said Yanie Mazlan, 34 an executive after evaluating his latest pictures.
Another Malaysian, Alfred Rajan, said Khairy should maintain a consistent look.
"Having a beard is a self-indulgent style, which is not proper. Other world famous leaders maintain their look unless it changes due to nature, such as in the case of baldness. Look at Tun Mahathir, Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Lee Kuan Yew, to name but a few," he said.
Meanwhile. Wendy Lee, an image consultant and President of the Malaysian Association of Brand & Image Consultants (MABIC) opined that Khairy presented a better image clean shaven.
"I prefer him clean shaven. This white beard doesn't suit him. He doesn't have the 'maturity' to carry this style,” she said.
“Perhaps he should wait a year or two when he sports white hair, then the white beard would be fine. But at this moment, I think most would prefer him to be clean shaven.
“The problem with facial hair is that if it is not well kept, it can make one look unkempt and unprofessional. So being a leader of the youth, you have to look the part,” she said.
She suggested that the minister should get a shave.
However, Shaiful Haffez, 38, a male grooming product trader, said the beard fits Khairy well, and should stay.
"He has a small face, so if he keeps a beard, he looks more outstanding," said Shaiful, who specialises in facial hair products.
"Men with beards have more charisma. It is a show of manliness, not just a naked face. Besides, it is 'sunnah'," he said.
However, Shaiful, whose product goes under the brand name Tok Sheikh Beard Oil, said Khairy may need some help with his beard growing, to make it more majestic.
"Sometimes the beard grows slowly. If it is stimulated, it will grow more rapidly," he said, suggesting that the minister use products that would help grow the beard.