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Back The Iconoclast She’s Back! Shahrizat Set to Do Her Bit for GE13

She’s Back! Shahrizat Set to Do Her Bit for GE13

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Sharizat-WanitaIt would have been easy for Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil to fade into obscurity after the NFC scandal ended her ministerial career this year but then, she would be the first to remind us that it isn't the first time her political career has been stopped in its tracks and she has bounced back.

Despite the fact she was cleared by the MACC and has faced no criminal charges over the NFC, she was politically damaged by the affair, and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak rightly made it clear she was no longer welcome in his cabinet – or as one of his Umno Senate nominees.

For most politicians that would have been the end of their political career but Shahrizat is not so easily defeated and her pluckiness in the face of adversity has proven to be admirable, if not plain stubborn.

Rather than opt for a quiet life of practicing law, paid speaking engagements or television chat shows she has stayed as Wanita chief where her hard work and cheerfulness have ensured her supporters have remained loyal to her even through her darkest hours.

Week-in, week-out she has criss-crossed the country attending branch level Wanita Umno events, handing out food hampers and quietly addressing the concerns of women who have never felt they have had a political voice - until she came along.

And now, Shahrizat is moving back up through the gears and is again being heard on the national stage. Just this week she summoned the press to attack Pakatan Rakyat's "Agenda Wanita Malaysia" and her comments have reminded us what we have been missing.

After first pointing out that the Opposition coalition is very late in seeing the need for such an organisation she said: "I was thoroughly amused when they launched the Agenda Wanita Malaysia, listing out all sorts of changes because the causes have long been championed by the BN government".

"The idea for Agenda Wanita Malaysia was triggered only after the opposition realised that there are 50 per cent women voters," she said.

She also enjoyed the rumours that Anwar is to head this organisation asking: "so now women will head out and ask, is Anwar the head of their women too?" This is a curious line of attack given that Najib took over her role when she stepped down in April but that's part of the charm of Shahrizat – always prepared to speak out and shake things up even if it means creating uncomfortable moments on her own side of politics.

What we are witnessing now is a political come-back of sorts and not the first one for Shahrizat. After losing her Dewan Rakyat seat to Anwar's daughter Nurul Izzah at GE12 she found herself without her precious women's portfolio that she had held since Dr M established the role in 2001.

So there she was in 2008. Effectively out of politics and without her beloved ministry but, as we have seen since, she didn't panic. Instead she waited until a senate role became available, re-entered federal politics and was offered her old job by New Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

You can't keep a strong woman down.

It's fair to say that in 2012 Shahrizat has done herself no favours. Under pressure to stand aside when the NFC story broke she did so – for just three weeks before breezing back into Purtrajaya in February after a pilgrimage to Mecca. She not only returned to her ministerial desk as if nothing had happened but vowed to take her seat at the cabinet table as well.

She went way beyond her right to profess her innocence being, at times, contemptuous of the MACC and due process. A bit more humility could have done her the world of good.

Shahrizat has a role to play ahead of GE13 and her attack this week reminds us that she can be an annoying presence for Pakatan Rakyat and a strident force for Umno. Her days of taking a background role seem to be over.

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