A PROMINENT UMNO leader has delivered a significant message, cautioning against the intertwining of religion and politics, which he believes hampers effective leadership in Malaysia.
UMNO vice president Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani emphasised the importance of separating religious considerations from political decisions, especially in a diverse and multicultural society.
Speaking during a campaign trail visit to Kampung Orang Asli Bakar Batu in support of Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) Pulai candidate Suhaizan Kaiat, Johari urged Malaysians to understand how Islam encourages development and progress.
“Do not use a ‘slogan’ to develop a ‘backward’ state. Don’t sell religion for seats. To sell religion for seats means we (Muslims) cannot prove that our religion is led by people capable of nation development.”
He underscored that the exploitation of religious sentiments for political gains, often referred to as “selling religion for seats,” can hinder the credibility of leaders and their ability to lead the country effectively.
The Titiwangsa MP urged political leaders not to rely solely on religious slogans or affiliations to develop their respective constituencies. He noted that true leadership should be based on delivering tangible development and progress for the people.
Highlighting the dynamics of politics in different states, Johari mentioned that while there are various factors at play, the most critical proof of leadership remains in the realm of development. He cited Perlis, Kelantan, Kedah and Terengganu, which are currently led by Perikatan Nasional (PN) as examples where leaders must prioritise demonstrating their commitment to development.
“What’s important is showing proof of how you (PN) develop Perlis, Kelantan, Kedah, Terengganu. Only then will people believe in a progressive Islamist leadership. We (PH-Barisan Nasional) want to show the people,” said Johari.
He also drew a comparison with Penang, which is led by a non-Malay chief minister from DAP. The former finance minister II commended Penang for its progressive developments under non-Muslim leadership, further emphasising the importance of results over religious affiliations in governance.
Moreover, Johari expressed his gratitude for the support of BN’s machinery in the Pulai and Simpang Jeram by-elections. He pointed out the importance of reciprocity and sincerity among political allies, referring to the support given by PH to BN to form state governments in Perak and Pahang after the 15th General Election.
Similarly, in the last six state elections, Johari said BN’s performance to only win two out of the 12 seats it was allocated had cost the Harapan-led government two-thirds majority control in the Selangor state assembly.
“That is why, for BN, when it comes to this Pulai by-election, the seat that was previously won by Harapan through Amanah, and not with a 100, 200 majority – they won with over 30,000 majority.
“We need to give back their right (to contest). We too want to show our sincerity. This is what is important.” – Sept 6, 2023
Main photo credit: The Edge Markets