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Berita Bernama TV ada menyiarkan sedikit ucaptama Presiden UMNO Abdullah Ahmad Badawi di majilis perayaan ulangtahun UMNO ke-62 yang telah dirayai pada minggu lalu. Adapun kamera menayangkan pembesar-pembesar Majlis Tertinggi yang duduk di atas pentas juga. Tidak dapat saya lupakan Rafidah yang begitu mendalam khusyuk sekali bermain, membelek-belek sesuatu yang rupa bentuknya seperti sebuah ‘pocket PC’ sehingga tidak adapun memberi sedikit perhatian kepada ucapan yang sedang diberikan oleh Presiden UMNO.

Kawan saya yang muda usianya pun tertarik untuk mendalami sejarah Rafidah Abdul Aziz yang jauh jurang perbezaan zaman dengan dirinya yang belum berusia 21 tahun lagi. Lalu dicari sedikit sebanyak fakta tentang wanita besi ini.

Khas untuk para pemuda-pemudi sekalian, saya diminta berkongsi sejarah Wanita ini:

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Can Rafidah Aziz remain as Wanita UMNO Chief?

Rafidah Aziz, born in Kuala Kangsar, Perak on Nov 4, 1943, has been living in the ground of politics since 1970’s. She started her climbing into political stardom when she became the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Public Enterprises in 1976 and took over the helm of Wanita UMNO 10 years later. By holding the position as the chief of UMNO women, she was given a ministerial position as the Minister of Trade and Industry, which was a post she grasped since 1987, until she was dropped by the current PM, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi in the recent Cabinet line-up.

Many questions have arisen on why this key UMNO leader has been excluded from the new Cabinet. Many felt that the PM has taken such drastic decision as a move to reform the government and UMNO by dropping reputation-marred leaders and replacing them with younger successors with good track records and clean background.

Rafidah once rocked the nation with Approved Permits (AP) scandal.

The retired premier, Tun Dr Mahathir has raised the issue and attacked Rafidah, by claiming 12,000 APs were given to 82 companies but the remaining 54,000 APs were rewarded to only 20 selected companies, which some belongs to Rafidah’s relatives.

She was finally ordered by the Cabinet to answer to the Parliament over this issue after much delaying tactics by citing official oversea business trips as excuses.

Although she finally escaped unharmed, her reputation has gone down into the drain. It is said that the PM has been under intense pressure to remove Rafidah, however she apparently survived the 2006’s Cabinet reshuffle.

When Rafidah was dropped from the recent Cabinet line-up, she cried publicly and lamented on why PM has given her a chance to contest in the election when she was not in the position to be included in the new Cabinet.

She unleashed her fury and disappointment by threatening to resign from all her posts, including her position as Wanita UMNO chief and even as Kuala Kangsar MP. She claimed that her unhappiness was based on the lack of appreciation given to the Wanita UMNO wing.

However, when she found out that PM has appointed her deputy, Shahrizat as his special advisor on women’s affair and community development, she accused her deputy, who was also her supporter, of betraying and backstabbing her. She also has fallout with another UMNO female leader, Azalina Othman, who was also the former Puteri UMNO chief.

After a day of rage, Rafidah finally calmed down, returned to her ultra-confident self and announced “I will not resign!”.

She has been holding the post of Wanita UMNO chief for more than 20 years and some quarters felt that she has overstayed her tenure and should make way for younger successor willingly.

It will be interesting to know if Rafidah can remain as Wanita UMNO Chief in the coming UMNO general election.

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