FORMER agriculture and agro-based industries deputy minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shariff Omar has decided to leave Umno following the dropping of his candidacy in Tasek Gelugor by Barisan Nasional (BN) chief Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Shariff said that was the right thing to do after he realised that his name was not featured as the replacement to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Mohd Nor Yakcop’s failure to make the cut in the line-up.
“Yes that is the right thing to do. What else can I do? They (Umno party leadership) have obviously found their winnable candidate for the seat. What can I say?” said the 66-year-old.
When asked if he would contest as an independent candidate, Mohd Shariff said he would have to speak with his supporters in his Pokok Machang hometown within the constituency before deciding the next course of action.
Meanwhile, former Permatang Berangan assemblyman Shabudin Yahaya has been fi elded as the successive candidate for the seat that is considered an Umno stronghold on the mainland.
In 2008, Mohd Shariff was asked to give up his Tasek Gelugor parliament seat for Mohd Nor by former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi so that he (Mohd Nor) could assist him in fi nancial matters.
According to Mohd Shariff , the arrangement would only be for one term and the former agreed in the spirit of BN.
“Tasek Gelugor was my stronghold. I helped develop it for 20 years. In Penang, only two parliament seats won in 2008. Please don’t compare the Kepala Batas parliament win with Tasek Gelugor’s seat retention.
“Kepala Batas was held by the then prime minister making it an easy win for him.
Although I gave up my seat for Mohamed Yakcop, I still helped with the campaign,” he reportedly said.
The veteran politician joined politics in 1982 before becoming a Penang state executive councillor till 1990.
He was then made parliamentary secretary to Ministry of Agriculture (1990 to 1995) before taking on the deputy chief minister-ship position between 1995 and 1999.
Mohd Shariff f went on to become Deputy Minister for the Agriculture and Agrobased Industries from 1999 onwards before he willingly submitted to Abdullah’s call to make way.
In his 30 years political tenure, he served two terms under late chief minister Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu as exco member, and one term under former chief minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon.
He won BN seats for Permatang Berangan state seat within the Tasek Gelugor parliamentary constituency for three terms, and another three terms as Tasek Gelugor MP.