With religion a political tool, Rafidah fears for Malaysia’s future
PETALING JAYA: With religion being constantly exploited as a political tool to win supporters and votes, former federal minister Rafidah Aziz says she is “frightened” over Malaysia’s future.
The veteran politician, who was part of Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s cabinet during his first term in power, said she has spent enough time in politics to have an idea of Malaysia’s direction in the past, present and future.
“When religion becomes politicised, you veer off from the real tenets of the religion. You interpret religion according to your own whims and fancies to suit your purpose, your goals and your objectives. I worry about that, but it’s not new.
“For 55 years of my life I’ve been active in politics, since the days of Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Abdul Razak, who appointed me as a senator.
“In other words, I can see the flow of where we have been, where we are now and where we are going, which to me is frightening,” she said in an interview with FMT.
Rafidah said Malaysians needed to learn how to think objectively at the ballot boxes rather than being easily swayed by the eloquent yet rhetorical speeches of politicians.
She said politicians loved giving “motherhood statements” that made the headlines of news articles while preaching different messages to different crowds to curry favour, adding that people from various fields were capable of doing this.
“You go to a religious gathering where it’s Muslims only and you wear your serban, your sarong and you speak ‘Allah’, that kind of language.
“‘Rentak Arab’ (an Arabic beat),” she quipped.
“Then you go to the Chinese community and then you speak multiracial (rhetoric). Then you go to the Indian community … That’s not right. You should speak to them all as Malaysians.”
When asked what the future holds for Malays, she said: “I’m not so concerned about where the Malays will be, I’m more concerned about where Malaysia and Malaysians will be.”
She said she had never tied down issues like poverty to specific races, saying the nation should gauge individuals by economic capacity in order to effectively address the issues people faced.
“I’ve always thought like that. I may be a Malay, but I’m a Malaysian first.”
“If we continue to espouse racially-biased politics, you will plant the seeds of diversity in a very negative way,” she warned.
Rafidah, who served as Wanita Umno chief previously, said she no longer cared where her former party was headed after she was sacked in 2018, adding that she was sick of the “toxicity” of Malaysian politics today.
She said politics had simply become about clamoring to remain in power rather than what one could do for the nation, adding that this was not just at the top.
“You are diverted from the serious issues facing the rakyat. Even Covid-19 you want to politicise. I mean, this is not the time to think about politics.
“If you feel that you have to sacrifice yourself by doing something which is not politically savoury but is good for the rakyat, you will win the election. But people can see through it if everything you do is fishing for votes and the end game is vested interest.”
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