'There is really no sacrifice as it was a natural sequence of events'
RAFIDAH: ‘Shahrizat still a burden for not relinquishing Wanita leadership’
MARCH 13, 2012: "QUIT? What quit?". That seems to be the question on many lips following Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil's announcement on Sunday she was stepping down as the women, family and community development minister, in reaction to the National Feedlot Centre (NFC) scandal.
One of her harshest critics is her predecessor in Wanita Umno, Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, who indicated that one should not attempt to downplay the events that led to Shahrizat's term as senator not being renewed and hence losing her minister's post.
"There is no issue of stepping down or resigning!"
Rafidah said when contacted by The Malay Mail.
"There is nothing to step down from as she is legally no longer a minister on April 8.
"She is not resigning on April 8, it is just that her senatorship expires that day and her ministerial post automatically lapses."
Calling Shahrizat's quit announcement as a "sham of a statement", Rafidah said resigning meant Shahrizat should quit immediately – while she was still a senator.
"So, really there is no sacrifice as it was a natural sequence of events," said the former minister of international trade and industry who was among the first to ask Shahrizat to quit over the NFC scandal.
"The party and government have had to face so much flak on account of her unwillingness to resign quickly and prioritise the interests of the party and the government."
Rafidah lost the Wanita Umno chief's post to Shahrizat in 2007 but retained her Kuala Kangsar parliament seat in the 2008 "political tsunami" that saw Barisan Nasional (BN) lose its two-thirds majority in the Dewan Rakyat.
In that general election, Shahrizat lost her Lembah Pantai seat to newcomer Nurul Izzah Anwar, but was appointed a senator and returned to the Cabinet.
Rafi dah also said since Shahrizat remained Wanita chief, she was still a burden to the party since members realised that she did not resign her ministerial post but that the post automatically lapsed on April 8.
She said it might be tough for Umno to explain why she did not step down as Wanita head.
"That issue is now a problem in itself. It does not matter what happens to one person but every division must now concentrate on the grassroots election work in every locality," she said.
However, Rafidah acknowledges that while the ministerial post is an appointed one, Shahrizat was elected as Wanita chief and hence one must also factor in the wishes of members.
"That (vacating her position as Wanita head) is her prerogative as she was elected," she said.