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Friday, March 27, 2009

Shahrir to resign on April 1

KUALA LUMPUR, March 27 — malaysianinsider | By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani

Stung by his loss at the Umno polls, Datuk Sharir Abdul Samad will submit his resignation from the Cabinet at its weekly meeting on April 1.

The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister lost in the race for an Umno supreme council spot yesterday.

“For me, I chose to become a minister because of the support I received from the party. I feel I need a strong moral basis in order to perform my job well because if I become a minister, I have to face the people, the government servants, the opposition,” Shahrir told reporters at the Umno annual assembly today.

“But if I do not have a strong political moral standing as a member of the party leadership, I will not be able to perform well as a minister,” the Johor Baru Umno chief added.

He said his decision was made on a matter of principle.

“After I was chosen as a minister a year ago, I asked for support from the party and when I do not get the recognition, I cannot turn back and say that I want support from the prime minister, that is not fair.

“That is why I have made the decision that when I do not get the support from the party, I must step down as a minister,” Shahrir added.

The maverick politician was the youngest person tapped as a minister in then-Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Cabinet in 1986.

But he went against the new party formed by Dr Mahathir after the old Umno was declared illegal, standing and winning his Johor Baru political fortress in a 1988 by-election.

He returned to favour when Abdullah came to power and was made minister last year. Largely seen as a protégé of former party deputy president Tun Musa Hitam, who fell out with Dr Mahathir,

Shahrir has always been a maverick politician who spoke his mind. Another Musa protégé, Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin, also lost in his bid for a vice-presidential slot — coming in a close fourth in the race.

Party sources said Najib is likely to appoint him to the powerful supreme council despite his loss.

Johor Umno’s domination in the party’s highest decision-making body also took a serious blow with two other ministers and the Johor menteri besar losing in their bids for a place.

The loss is seen as a major blow to the birthplace of the dominant Malay party that brought the country to Merdeka. Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar lost out in the vice-presidential race while Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman failed to make it back into the supreme council.

This could mark the end of Syed Hamid’s 20-year service in the Cabinet. Azalina, who has been questioned in connection with graft in Umno, could also lose her Cabinet seat as Najib is under pressure to select a “clean” Cabinet.

Najib is slated to take over as prime minister a week from today.

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