Wake-up call for Wanita leadership

KUALA LUMPUR: Tan Sri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil's decision to make a political comeback is a wake-up call to incumbent Wanita Umno chief Datuk Seri Dr Noraini Ahmad, says a political analyst.

Dr Ainul Adzellie Hasnul believed that Shahrizat was compelled to come out of retirement and run for Wanita Umno chief after observing Noraini's weaknesses in leading the wing.

"Unlike Umno Youth and Puteri, Wanita Umno is not a movement, but is the backbone of the party.

"Over the years, Wanita Umno has appeared to be losing its 'shine', appeal and strength, especially after the party's dismal performance in the 15th General Election (GE15).

"Perhaps, Shahrizat has decided to contest in the party election after she noticed something is not right with Wanita Umno," he said.

After announcing her retirement from politics about five years ago, Shahrizat recently announced that she had decided to make a political comeback by contesting in the Umno election.

Shahrizat on Friday submitted her nomination papers to contest for the Wanita Umno chief post, which she helmed for 10 years from 2008 until 2018.

She told the New Straits Times that her vision was to strengthen the party's foundation and spread its wings.

Up to yesterday, only Noraini and Shahrizat had announced their intention to defend and contest the Wanita Umno chief post, respectively.

Ainul said he also believed that Shahrizat's decision had received the endorsement of leaders and members, who wanted to see a change of leadership in the wing.

"Wanita Umno grassroots want change for the wing to become more dynamic and aggressive in voicing and championing issues affecting the livelihood of the people, especially women.

"Moreover, Umno is a minority coalition in the unity government. Therefore, Wanita Umno grassroots aspire for a leader who is more vocal, and they see that quality in an experienced leader like Shahrizat," he said.

"Noraini is a member of parliament. Her only disadvantage is that she is not a cabinet member and Shahrizat is more vocal than her.

Ainul, however, believed that both Noraini and Shahrizat had their own strengths in entering the party elections.

"All these can be an advantage for Umno to prepare for the upcoming state elections," he said.

Another political analyst, Professor Dr Kartini Aboo Talib of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, said comparing Shahrizat and Noraini was like comparing apples with oranges.

"Shahrizat is a senior leader with experience. She has a strong personality, firm and able to make decisions without hesitation. Noraini, on the other hand, is relatively delicate in decision-making," Kartini said.

Shahrizat's only liability, said Kartini, would be the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) funds misappropriation case, which had implicated her, her husband and three children.

"This is the killing factor that may cost Shahrizat her gambit. However, I believe Umno members can turn a blind eye for the greater good," she said.

International Islamic University Malaysia analyst Dr Syaza Shukri expected the NFC scandal to surface again in the run-up to the party polls.

"However, I do not think such an issue would create a huge dent on Shahrizat's chances in the race for Wanita Umno chief," she said.

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