LIMA (Peru): Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak hopes that the impending fight for the Wanita wing’s top post will not cause a fracture in the movement.
“The contest (in March between incumbent Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz and her deputy Datuk Seri Sharizat Abdul Jalil) shows the maturity of Umno’s democracy.
“However, I hope that the contest will not cause a split within the movement which is the backbone of the party.
“They must quickly reunite after the contest so that they can help strengthen the party,”Â Najib said to Malaysian journalists here covering the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting on Thursday (Friday in Malaysia).
The Deputy Prime Minister, who is in Lima to attend the leaders summit for the first time, was asked to comment about Shrizat’s decision to challenge Rafidah for the Wanita chief’s post.
However, Najib warned that the contest and the campaigning must be kept ‘healthy and clean.’
Party vice-president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also attending the Apec meeting as International Trade and Industry Minister, also urged that the women not to split the wing in their contest.
He added that anyone had the right to contest for posts in the party as long as they had the required nominations.
Shahrizat, who received 72 nominations against Rafidah’s 118 for the movement’s top post, said she ‘accepted the nominations and support’Â given to her by the wing.
“Wanita Umno must be united and strengthen the party, and be bold enough to bring change and renewal,”Â she said in a two-paragraph statement.
Her confirmation ends much speculation on whether there would be a contest for the Wanita Umno presidency after nominations closed on Nov 9.
Rafidah, 65, had been trying to keep Shahrizat, 55, at bay with a transition plan that would see her handing over power next June, three months after March party polls.
Before the start of the division meetings, Shahrizat, based on an agreement with Rafidah, had pledged not to contest against Rafidah even if she picked up enough nominations.
A day before last week’s Wanita executive council meeting, Shahrizat indicated her change of heart when she asked for the transition to be brought forward to March.
However, Rafidah announced after the meeting that her deputy would keep to the original transition plan and that there would be no contest for the top post.
Rafidah, who was first elected Wanita Umno chief in 1984 (she lost in 1996 before regaining the post in 2000), refused to comment on Shahrizat’s about-turn, saying that she would issue a statement later.
Source : The Star