Apple shareholders challenged the company’s leadership to reveal its succession plan today at the company’s stockholders meeting. But the majority of investors voted down the proposal.

Preliminary votes show that the proposal urging Apple to clarify its succession plan in light of CEO Steve Jobs’ illness did not get enough votes.

Tim Cook, who is standing in for Jobs as CEO while Apple’s founder is on medical leave, said at the company’s annual meeting that Apple has invited press to an event on March 2. Most of the press believe the event will be the debut of the iPad 2 tablet computer. Jobs did not appear at the event.

Cook said the tablet market opportunity is huge and that Apple has (as previously reported) sold nearly 15 million of the device since 2010. He said the company sold 14 million Macs in 2010 and 40 million iPhones.

Jobs is on his third medical leave in seven years. A proposal backed by the Laborers International Union of North America sought to force the Apple board to disclose plans for replacing Jobs. The proposal was backed by investor-advisory service Institutional Shareholder Services. But Apple argued that revealing secret plans would help competitors and make it harder to retain executives. Jobs has been on leave since Jan. 17. In 2009, he had a liver transplant. Shareholders were upset at the time because Apple did not disclose the details of his illness.

Cook also addressed complaints about the manufacturing practices of Apple’s suppliers in China. He said Apple requires suppliers to have the highest standards o worker safety and noted Apple has closely monitored its supply chain for five years. During that time, Apple terminated one supplier for having under-age workers.

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