I am a winnable candidate in PRU 13 : Shahrizat

(The Kuala Lumpur Post) – Wanita Umno chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, who was forced to quit as a minister following the NFC scandal, is still harbouring hope of being fielded as a candidate in the next general election.

Despite the prospects appearing bleak, she downplayed the uncertainty of her political future, saying that she was only focusing on delivering the votes for Umno, FMT reports.

Observers believe that the RM250 million scandal had raised doubts if the former minister would be picked to run in the polls while her future as Wanita chief was also said to be under threat.

Shahrizat, however, said it was ultimately up to Umno president and prime minister Najib Tun Razak to decide on her candidacy.

“I don’t see why I shouldn’t offer myself as a candidate (but) what is important is that I am focusing on delivering the votes to Umno.

“And only, maybe, by doing this the president will see my importance,” she told reporters after opening the wing’s annual general assembly at the Putra World Trade Centre here.

In her speech earlier, Shahrizat said Wanita vowed to be the backbone of the party’s election machinery as Umno was set to face a strong opposition in what would be its toughest election to date.

But even Umno insiders claimed that support for her in Wanita was withering after some, including her influential predecessor Rafidah Aziz, described her as a liability to the wing.

Divided Wanita

Shahrizat was forced to step down as minister after her family members were accused of swindling taxpayers’ money meant for a national cattle breeding project but she had so far maintained that she had no direct link to the issue.

Najib was forced to intervene and contain the split when what was seen as a move to unseat her became stronger at the height of the scandal.

The issue was subsequently declared “resolved” after a closed-door meeting was held between Najib and the wing with Shahrizat’s critics coming out saying they would give their full support to their chief.

In her speech today, Shahrizat, who was defeated by PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah for the Lembah Pantai parliamentary seat in 2008, again called for unity among the party grassroots.

She also echoed this year’s prevailing sentiment of unity as Umno would face a strong opposition in the upcoming polls.

Najib had said that only a united Umno could prevail against its opponent in a signal that the division within the party was real and the prospect of sabotages, blamed for the party’s dismal performance in the last polls, could ruin its chances again.

Barisan Nasional lost five states and its customary parliamentary two-thirds majority in the 12th national polls.