Wanita UMNO in their meeting had expressed their disappointment for the exclusion of Wanita UMNO members from the new cabinet. The presence of Dato Azalina as Tourism Minister was not acknowledge as representative of Wanita UMNO. Dato Shahrizat's appointment as Minister status adviser was taken as insult.
Talk in the coffeehouses and cafes today speculated that her exclusion is related to a private letter written to the party President immediately after UMNO and Barisan Nasional's recent dismal performance in the General Election.
It is widely believed that Khairy was mentioned in the letter as one of the major reason for the poor showing. Taking the cue from past negative reaction of Abdullah whenever Khairy is raised in any discussion, briefing and reports, political pundits view this reaction from Abdullah to exclude Rafidah from the cabinet as not surprising.
Rafidah acknowledged the existence of the private 16 page letter in the press conference but refused to comment on the content of the letter.
Mukhriz Mahathir, who had earlier written a private letter requesting Abdullah's resignation, was relieved from any action by the Pemuda UMNO yesterday. His letter to the President and top party officials was photocopied and distributed to party officials. It reached the hands of bloggers and was widely distributed online.
There are many other reasons for Rafidah's exclusion. One view it as an Abdullah's attempt to purge the party of leaders from the old guard like Rafidah. She has been Ketua Wanita and Trade and Industry Minister (later International Trade and Industry Minister) since 1986.
Dato Azalina Osman, a political ally to Khairy, and Dato Dr Mashitah has been set up to take this post of Ketua and Naib Ketua Wanita UMNO. She is expected to have an uphill task to takeover the Wanita UMNO leadership. Azalina was elected on the Wanita exco as a former Ketua Puteri but has not been in camaraderie with the Wanita movement.
Abdullah's recent denial and the allegation surrounding this latest episode confirms he remain defensive on Khairy. Many insiders still believed he is in-denial of the fact that himself and Khairy were the leading factors to UMNO and BN worst showing ever.
The longer he remains in such state of denial, the longer it is for BN to recover. Many believed it will not be any longer. Abdullah is expected to have a tough time defending his Presidency in the upcoming UMNO party election.