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Sharizat to challenge Rafidah officially - malaysiakini

Malaysiakini's report:

Wanita deputy chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil is expected to announce her candidacy for the chief's position tomorrow, according to sources.


This long U-turn - refusing to adhere to a transition plan centred on present chief Rafidah Aziz retaining her post - by the former Lembah Pantai MP was always expected.

wanita umno pak lah meet rafidah shahrizat event  040808 05The mounting pressure from both another contender for the deputy chief post and calls from divisions across the country for a change of leadership has finally moved Shahrizat to retract her pledge not to contest, sources added.

Kamilia Ibrahim - only qualifier besides Shahrizat for the number two post - has confirmed that she will be contesting the post. She received 55 nominations, which is drowned by Shahrizat's 116.

However Shahrizat risks backlash votes if she still persist to the transition plan - from those who have come outright to support her to lead the wing. A Kamilia win is not impossible under such a climate.

When contacted, Shahrizat said: "Wait till I make my official announcement".

The choice of Thursday to make the announcement is interesting. Both the prime minister and deputy prime minister will not be in the country - a rare occurrence.

Shahrizat who is the special adviser on women's affair - a minister level position - has, sources intimate, informed both the top leaders of the country.

Losing Sabah

The initial power transition plan was for Rafidah to be chief, but hand over in June 2009 to Shahrizat, making her the acting chief of the wing. This will keep Rafidah as head of the wing she has led since 1984 - with the exception of three years when she lost - until 2012 when the next party elections are likely.

Rafidah initially announced the plan last August and last week's exco meeting of the wing endorsed the plan - rejecting Shahrizat's plea the day before to reconsider. Kamilia chose not to attend the meeting as a mark of her objection to the transition plan.

Rafidah is on holiday in Hong Kong, and said that she would comment only when she returns.

wanita umno pak lah meet rafidah shahrizat event  040808 02Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has stated his concern in regards to the development in the wing, urging for greater unity. He intends to meet the wing's leaders when he returns - which would probably be earliest Friday - but that might be too late to avert a contest.

Based on nominations from the completed division meetings, Rafidah has a comfortable 117 nominations compared to Shahrizat's 73 for the top post.

However Shahrizat chalked in more nominations even after saying openly that she was not vying to be wanita chief.

That is compounded by changes on the ground since nominations closed, in favour of Shahrizat.

Jainab Ahmad, the information chief for Sabah Wanita wing, has asked Rafidah yesterday to reconsider her transition plan, according to Bernama.

She said that if Abdullah was willing to consider party unity and retreated from the president's post, then Rafidah too should think of the wing's grassroots.

The Sepanggar wanita chief said that while 14 out of 25 divisions in the state nominated Shahrizat, the other 11 will now opt for Shahrizat too despite their initial support for the transition plan.

Home comforts from Penang

Meanwhile 10 out of the 13 Penang divisions have rejected the transition plan yesterday.

Tanjong division head Norjan Hamid - as group spokesperson - said just like Jainab that the wing should take example from the power transition for the party presidency.

"Its only three months ( the time from election to when Rafidah intends to pass over to Shahrizat). What can she do in such a short time-frame?

"If Shahrizat becomes acting chief in June, the deputy post will be empty. This reduces the leadership strength of the wing," said Norjan in a press conference with seven other division chiefs.

The ten dissenting divisions were Kepala Batas, Bukit Mertajam, Permatang Pauh, Batu Kawan, Nibong Tebal, Tanjong, Bukit Bendara, Jelutong, Bagan and Nibong Tebal.

rafidah aziz pc on permatang pauh by election 010808 03Nibong Tebal nominated Rafidah, but now has changed its mind. Kepala Batas the prime minister's division might be a barometer of how Abdullah thinks of the wing's future.

"If Rafidah loved the party more than herself, then she should give way, and let the party unite again," added Norjan.

Important to note that Shahrizat is Penang born, although she now heads the wing in the Federal Territory.

There are supporters still for Rafidah, as Umno Selangor which gave her 16 out of a possible 22 nominations, have asked Shahrizat to respect the transition plan.

According to sources, the state would like Shahrizat to keep the pledge she made in-front of all state leaders not to challenge Rafidah.

The strong support base for Shahrizat, coupled with shifting loyalties from the divisions are pointing to a Shahrizat win for the top post. Rafidah probably knows it, and is counting only on Shahrizat being indecisive - and not make the announcement tomorrow.

The deputy's indecision is seen to be an end, and her announcement tomorrow probably will lead to Rafidah mulling the possibility of pulling out of the race -