By Clara Chooi
KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 - Wanita Umno today demanded an open apology from PKR leaders Datuk Saifuddin Nasution, Zuraida Kamaruddin and Rafizi Ramli to their wing chief Datuk Shahrizat Abdul Jalil after the latter was cleared of corruption in the National Feedlot Centre (NFC) scandal.
Wanita Umno Information chief Datuk Hamidah Osman said in statement here that the apologies would help restore Shahrizat's dignity and good reputation, which had been tarnished when the trio repeatedly linked her to the RM250 million controversy.
"This was a great persecution by the opposition towards Shahrizat and it soiled her good name and her credibility at the time as a minister and Wanita Umno chief. I feel that she was merely the victim of the opposition's game of dirty politics," she wrote.
Shahrizat (picture) has been dogged by allegations of corruption in the awarding of the RM250 million federally-funded cattle farming project to the National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp), a firm owned and operated by her husband Datuk Seri Mohamad Salleh Ismail and three children.
The former minister even had to take three weeks' leave from her ministerial duties to allow the authorities to investigate claims of abuse and power aganst both her and her family.
The scandal, which has been dominating media headlines for many months since last year, later led to Shahrizat's stepping down as minister after her senatorship expired on April 8.
Before her stepping down, her husband Mohamad Salleh was charged with criminal breach of trust and violating the Companies Act in relation to RM49 million in federal funds given to NFCorp last March 12.
Earlier today, MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) Operations Evaluation Panel (PPO) chairman Tan Sri Datuk Dr Hadenan Abdul Jalil revealed that Shahrizat has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the RM250 million NFC scandal, which has been dominating media headlines for months since last year.
Hadenen told reporters the MACC has declared investigations into Shahriat's involvement closed after finding that the former minister had not been directly involved in the process of awarding the loan to NFCorp.
"The decision to award the contract to the company and to award the loan does not involve her," he had said.
However, Hamidah today expressed doubt that the MACC's decision would be accepted by Shahrizat's detractors in the opposition.
"This is their behaviour. Anything that does not side with them, they are unlikely to accept and will make more accusations.
"But now that it has been proven that Shahrizat is not involved in the NFC case, I urge Saifuddin, Zuraida and Rafizi to apologise to her and restore her good name and dignity," said the Perak leader.
In his immediate response to the matter earlier today, Rafizi told The Malaysian Insider that the MACC's investigation methods were suspect as they had cleared Shahrizat without first hauling up her accusers for questioning.