> You are seen as taking on your mentor. Is that acceptable to Wanita Umno?
I do not like the word lawan (fight). I am here to defend my position and with her coming in against me, it doesn’t lessen my respect for her. It is like a family - anak versus emak. It is within Umno and a friendly match.
In 2018, we were not part of the government. Tan Sri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil was the one who asked me to take the position. She is the mentor of Wanita Umno for me. Whether you like it or not, she has been a part of us. However, the time has come for all of us to be part of the leadership.
Wanita Umno at the ground wanted me to continue to be the leader of Wanita Umno and that’s why I am offering myself for the post.
> With the Wanita Umno chief post being the only post contested on a one-to-one, do you think you have a chance?
Anyone can claim to have the numbers as we have 191 Umno divisions. There is a fair chance for anyone contesting. In the end, it is the Umno people who will decide who wins, no matter what others want to say. This is an Umno contest within Umno for Umno by Umno.
> Why should Wanita Umno keep you as their chief?I believe everyone has their own strengths.
I was the Wanita Umno chief at its darkest times – when Umno was without funds, was not the government and we fought without any proper weapons to survive. Yet, I had worked on repairing the existing Wanita Umno system which I inherited from my predecessors.I may not be loud and my voice may not be heard. But I must be judged by the results I have delivered through my engagements with the leadership of the party.
I had to steer Wanita candidates through the by-elections, state elections and general election during the difficult times. And there were no statements of “Wanita only do their jobs on the beds” as was said earlier during my tenure.
During the last Johor state elections, I managed to ensure Umno President to nominate at least 27% of women candidates.
I would not want to say I am an example of the leader one should elect. However, I also never sat up there, but was down with the machineries every time during the elections.
But I knew what needed to be done.
For example, we were weak on social media. We, however, were strong on our welfare activities with Skuad Sayang and as such.
> Some say you are too soft to be heard, unlike your predecessors?
It is not that I am not vocal and fun. I happen to be a Member of Parliament and I have to take care of my constituents too. I have no problem being a fun person but work is work for me. I am serious but I can also still laugh with you. But you must know that I took the Wanita reins at a time when the party lost the Federal Government. You need to change the perception of the people who disregarded the party in the last two general elections.
Yet again, I am one person who has no protocol as I too am from the rural areas.
There is so much for us to still do. The perception of the party is also judged from the Wanita wing. The public perceives us from what we do. We have yet to win and to gain back the trust of the people to Umno once again after losing the Federal Government in 2018 is not easy. I only hope that whoever wins the Wanita post will take the wing and party higher.
> The political landscape has changed very much in the past few years, more so after the 14th general elections. Yet, some say you are not assertive enough in pushing Wanita to the forefront?No matter what the political landscape is, I am a party person.
For me, I abide by the party decisions, never mind when I was attacked when I resigned as the Higher Education Minister in 2021. (Umno had then withdrawn its support from the then prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.)I have also always engaged with the Finance Ministry to listen to the ideas from Wanita Umno. Former Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz listened to us and included some of our ideas into past Budget initiatives.
You can motivate people with money. However, now, it is different. You have to be independent with all the limitations you have – money is not everything. Friendship, consistency and loyalty are the most important.