KUALA LUMPUR, 21 Nov 2008: Wanita Umno chief Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz has slammed her deputy Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil for breaking her promise not to challenge her for the wing’s top post in the coming party elections.
In a handwritten press statement, Rafidah unleashed a torrent of criticism against Shahrizat and her supporters for breaking the pact more than three months after it was agreed upon.
Rafidah said the transition plan, whereby she would have been retained as Wanita chief uncontested to hand the reigns over to Shahrizat in June, was now off.
“I will defend my post for the 2009-2011 term. I am disappointed because the transition plan has been disputed and rejected, more than three months after I announced it on 4 Aug,” Rafidah said.
She criticised Shahrizat for making public statements that she would abide by the plan, only to break her promise now. Shahrizat yesterday issued a two-paragraph statement that she would contest the chief post.
Note the emphasis of underlined words in the statement
“Since I announced the plan, no one in the Wanita exco, or anyone outside, has disputed it. Even Shahrizat herself, whether in a four-eyed meeting, in the exco, or in press conferences, has repeatedly affirmed that she will not challenge me despite the nominations she has received.
“She said she will stick to the transition plan, that she will follow the advice of the party’s top leadership, she even said ‘my word is my honour’,” Rafidah said.
The Kuala Kangsar MP, who was not given a cabinet post after the March general election, received 117 nominations for the Wanita top post. Shahrizat, who lost the Lembah Pantai parliamentary constituency, received 72.
If Shahrizat does not take on Rafidah for the number one post, she will have to face Wanita executive council member Datuk Kamilia Ibrahim, who is running for the deputy chief post.
Rafidah said she was surprised at the dissent that broke out after the nomination process ended on 9 Nov with the end of the Umno divisional meetings.
She said objections to the transition plan should have been raised before the nomination process, and added that she would have been willing to allow any division to nominate any candidate for the Wanita chief and deputy posts.
“But the objections were raised after nominations were made, with all sorts of excuses that have no basis,” she complained.
Rafidah said it was illogical of some divisions to say that they wanted the transition plan brought forward from June to March next year.
“If it is done in March, there is no more transition plan because in essence, the plan involves a timeframe between the party annual general assembly (AGM) and the handover date. Everyone knows that originally, the timeframe was between January to June, because the party AGM was originally scheduled for December 2008,” she said.
The Umno AGM was deferred to March from its original December date at a party supreme council meeting on 26 Sept. The new date was to allow Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to handover power to his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Razak earlier than their initial June 2010 deadline.
With a bitter contest with her once-loyal deputy Shahrizat looming, Rafidah appealed to Wanita delegates to vote in the election with good manners, decorum and sincerity. She also warned against spreading lies or slander to jeopardise candidates, as this would divide the party.