On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Pressure mounts for Kak Ijat

The pressure has been mounting from within Barisan Nasional, especially in the Umno rank and file, for her to go as the National Feedlot Corporation issue continues to escalate and the Opposition keeps harping on it almost daily.

Shahrizat has maintained that she has no knowledge nor any role in the family-owned NFC, which is facing accusations of criminal breach of trust and misuse of government loan.

She has told her friends and supporters that she has never interfered in her husband’s business, especially the details of the NFC operations.

In fact, the Opposition has carefully left her out in their accusations, which are targeted at her husband and children who all hold positions in the NFC.

But it is still a no-win situation. The past one month has certainly been traumatic for Kak Ijat, as she is affectionately called, and certainly she has received much sympathy from her supporters and friends who regard her as one of the most moderate leaders.

She is known for her open-mindedness and multi-racial approach. Her public relations skills are first class. She has touched and won many hearts.

For many of her loyalists, it has been an emotional ride as they have campaigned hard to defend her. Many Barisan leaders, non-governmental organisation activists and editors have received numerous calls from her most ardent backers.

But Shahrizat is a seasoned politician who understands the reality of politics. She probably understands that the NFC controversy needs closure before the general election.

She is an elected Wanita Umno chief and no one can take that position away from her. However, her positions as a Cabinet minister and senator are appointed ones.

She owes it to the Prime Minister and, certainly, she must make it easy for Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Those who have worked under and with Najib would vouch for his tolerance, kindness and patience.

For other Barisan component parties, the issue has also become complicated. As the controversy involves an Umno leader, most have chosen to refrain from making open statements in the spirit of the coalition’s cooperation. But they also want it to end swiftly.

The daily accusations by Pakatan Rakyat have been difficult for anyone to defend because there is a lack of information from the NFC.

It is a huge loan but no one knows exactly what the terms and conditions are.

It also remains to be seen how much of the issues are civil and which are the criminal elements in contention.

The police have announced that they have completed their part, saying there is a case, which earned a quick rebuke from the NFC’s lawyer, Datuk Seri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who has an impressive track record in the courts.

It is now up to the Attorney-General to decide based on the investigation papers filed by the police and the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission.

Given the severity of the allegations, the public wants to know how much is the truth, how much is just political spinning by the Opposition and what the authorities have gathered from their investigations.