OUTGOING Puteri Umno chief Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin is likely to be the running mate of Wanita chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil in the party election.
However, Rosnah, who was earlier speculated to contest a seat in the Umno supreme council and Wanita Umno executive council, was believed to have delayed her announcement on the matter after receiving advice from several circles in Wanita and Puteri.
A Wanita Umno insider, nonetheless, insisted that Rosnah had pledged her support to Shahrizat and had been offered to back the latter as her No. 2.
“Rosnah had came to us and expressed support for Shahrizat. She had, however, intended to contest the executive councillor post in the senior wing.
“But we advised Rosnah to support Shahrizat as her possible deputy in Wanita Umno since she is a member of the cabinet and could act as a senior representative in the government.”
The source said Rosnah fit the bill of a senior Wanita Umno leader as she was a “working woman, a mother and a wife”. Rosnah’s impending departure from Puteri Umno had also led to a three-way contest for the wing’s top post.
Sources in Puteri Umno had named deputy chief Shahanim Mohd Yusoff and two exco members, Jamilah Hanim Othman and Mas Ermieyati Samsudin, as candidates to replace Rosnah.
Yesterday, Mas Ermieyati confirmed her candidacy and said Jamilah was running for the post as well.
Mas Ermieyati, who is also Malacca Puteri chief, said she had sought the “blessing” of the Malacca Umno state liaison committee and Rosnah to contest the post over a month ago.
“I want to continue serving my wing in a bigger capacity and will contest in the spirit of democracy.”
Sources said Mas Ermieyati was expected to appeal to the rural segment of Puteri Umno members and had stronger grassroots support after winning the Masjid Tanah parliamentary seat recently.
Meanwhile, Jamilah Hanim was known to be a vocal and opinionated leader in contrast to the popular perception that Puteri Umno members were demurred and accommodating.
Known as “Jamie” among her peers, the Petaling Jaya Selatan Puteri chief had always been regarded as a fair player who would listen to everybody.
“Jamilah has always been seen as someone that the public can easily relate to, especially among the youth,” a close aide said.
Shahanim, a former financial executive, had been on a steady rise ever since she was first appointed as the Kedah Puteri chief in 2004.
Five years later, she was elected as the wing’s second-in-command and worked closely with Rosnah to lift Puteri’s standing within Umno.
“It has always been expected that Shahanim would offer herself to contest the post once Rosnah has been automatically absorbed into Wanita Umno at the age of 41,” said a source close to her.
“Many have noted Shahanim’s strong managerial skills which would boost the party if she is elected.”
The race for the wing’s No.2 leadership is also heating up, as Shahanim prepares to vacate her deputy post. The seat is expected to be contested between Pandan Puteri chief Zahida Zarik Khan and Kulim Puteri chief and first-term assemblyman for Bandar Baru, Datin Norsabrina Mohd Noor.