PETALING JAYA - Pengerang MP Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said is on the verge of abandoning her bid for the Wanita Umno leadership.
Azalina, who had wanted to challenge Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil for the top Wanita post, is said to have decided to pull out of the race. She may instead contest for a seat in the Umno supreme council.
An insider from her campaign team said Azalina's decision came after a discussion with top party leaders.
"She loves Umno. She is a party loyalist who listens to the party leadership. She is a fighter and ready to go for it but she wants to respect the advice they give her," said the insider.
Azalina will likely make an official statement about her candidature on Sept 20, a day before nominations open for posts in the Wanita, Youth and Puteri wings. Azalina, who was the founding leader of Puteri Umno, has faced an uphill battle, especially after top Umno leaders openly endorsed Shahrizat for the post.
Sources said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had also advised Azalina to reconsider her decision to take on Shahrizat. There was concern that the contest may unsettle the wing, which is seen as the backbone of Umno.
Azalina has also been the target of under-the-belt campaigning. Some Wanita Umno leaders have implied that she is not fit to lead them because she is a single woman.
At the Wanita Umno Hari Raya open house in Kedah recently, state Wanita Umno chief Datuk Maznah Hamid said in her speech that women could go to Shahrizat if they had family problems because she is married and a mother.
"Women are mothers, wives and daughters. Whoever wants to lead Wanita Umno should be like that," she said.
There was also speculation that Datuk Suraya Yaakob, one of the two contenders for the Wanita vice-head post, would pull out. But Suraya, who is a Kedah exco member, said she is still in the running.
Her opponent, Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Azizah Dun, is Shahrizat's running mate.
Meanwhile, Raihan Suleiman, whose father had once challenged Tun Hussein Onn for the Umno presidency, has declared in her Facebook that she is a candidate for the Wanita top post.