Umno’s Alwi blames ulama for Malay disunity

It’s unfair to call Umno evil, says the Kelantan opposition leader.

Hawkeye, FMT

KOTA BARU: Kelantan opposition leader Alwi Che Md Ahmad has singled out religious scholars and preachers as being the main culprits causing disunity among the Malays.

He said some ulama, particularly those affiliated with PAS, had been using Islam since the 1990s to split the community, and the situation had become so bad that rival groups of Malays could not even stand the sight of each other.

He was commenting on last Friday’s controversial prayer to damn Umno, which was recited by Kelantan Menteri Besar Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat and his younger brother Nik Abdul Radzi at the Stadium Sultan Muhammed IV in Kota Baru. The occasion was a political rally that was part of Pakatan Rakyat’s campaign for support in the coming general election.

Alwi acknowledged that PAS supporters in Kelantan saw Umno as evil because it had withheld royalties from Petronas’ exploitation of the state’s oil and gas resources.

However, he said, the perception was unfair considering the amount of good Umno had done for Malaysians, including Kelantanese. He cited the construction of key infrastructure in the state as well as welfare programmes for the poor.

If Umno was indeed evil, he added, the party would have barred public hospitals from treating Nik Abdul Aziz when he suffered a heart attack in 2004.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak even visited Nik Abdul Aziz in hospital, he pointed out.

Alwi said Nik Abdul Aziz had become a portrait of contradictions.

“Here is an 82-year-old man who is ailing, yet chooses to remain in power by holding on to political posts for some 20 years,” he said.

“Why can’t he retire from politics to concentrate on offering sermons and religious instruction to his followers? The answer is simple. He is a politician first and an ulama second.

“The whole of Kelantan knows that Nik Abdul Aziz is ailing. Yet he refuses to draw up a succession plan and allows the state to be administered by auto-pilot.”