DATUK Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil will resign as minister and Wanita Umno chief in the next few days, sources close to her who are also senior movement leaders said.
A state Wanita Umno chief said Shahrizat, who is also Women, Family and Community Development Minister, told her close circle of executive council members on Friday night that she would be relinquishing both her posts.
It is also learnt that Shahrizat had met with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Friday to discuss her resignation. “Shahrizat told us she wanted to let go of both her posts. She was not happy with suggestions that she resign as minister but remain as Wanita Umno chief until the next party election. She sees no point in this. Therefore, she made up her mind to relinquish both positions,” said the state Wanita Umno chief.
The source added that some of the movement’s senior leaders who were upset with Shahrizat’s decision met with Najib the same day to discuss the matter. Another senior Wanita leader said a close aide of Shahrizat’s had informed some Wanita members that Shahrizat would resign on Saturday (yesterday).
"However, this did not happen. We are puzzled as her officer was very confident that an announcement would be made that day. Perhaps she is waiting for the right time."
Other highly-placed sources said it was certain that Shahrizat would not be fielded in the upcoming general election. There were also many other signs yesterday pointing to an impending announcement of Shahrizat's resignation.
Najib and Shahrizat's short exchange before the start of a press conference following the launch of a Wanita Barisan Nasional welfare programme, Jelajah Sayang 1Malaysia, at the Pasir Gudang Municipal Council, fuelled speculation that the Wanita Umno chief would make an important announcement soon.
Shahrizat was stopped by Najib while they were both walking towards the stage for the press conference. They proceeded to discuss in hushed tones while approaching their seats on the stage.
Reporters overheard what was discussed between the two. To a question from Najib, Shahrizat said: "It is not the right place. It is not proper. Maybe tomorrow (today)."
Realising what she said was heard by press members, Shahrizat flashed them a smile and sat down.
When asked later on rumours that Shahrizat was resigning, Najib said an announcement about Shahrizat's posts would be made later.
"There are all kinds of rumours. But we will make the appropriate announcement," said Najib.
When pressed further on whether Shahrizat would be resigning as minister or Wanita Umno chief, Najib said: "Don't worry, we will make the proper announcement."
Shahrizat had recently said that she was leaving it to Najib whether to reappoint her as senator when her term expires on April 8.
Shahrizat had arrived in Johor on Friday to attend a Wanita Umno retreat at the Biro Tatanegara camp in Gunung Pulai near Kulaijaya. A notable absentee at the retreat was her deputy, Datuk Kamilia Ibrahim, who has a strained relationship with Shahrizat following her statement that Umno's leaders must place party interests above their own.
The Pasir Gudang event yesterday was Shahrizat's second for the day, after the Wanita Umno Jelajah Squad Sayang event at Gunung Pulai launched by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
Shahrizat is linked to the National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp) controversy.
Her husband, Datuk Dr Mohamed Salleh Ismail, heads the NFCorp, which is involved in the beef valley project, the National Feedlot Centre, in Gemas, Negri Sembilan.
The 2010 Auditor-General's Report had pointed out several weaknesses in the project. Various quarters had urged Shahrizat to step down as minister.
Shahrizat was appointed as women and family development minister in 2001 and held the post until March 2008 when she lost in the general election.
She was then appointed as a special adviser to the prime minister on women affairs and social development. A year later, she was reappointed as women, family and community development minister. Additional reporting by Masami Mustaza and Rozanna Latiff