Datuk Seri Johari Ghani: The Country Needs Capable And Well-Respected Leaders
Former second finance minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani believes that Malaysia desperately needs leaders who are capable and have the courage to tackle the nation's political, health, and economic crises with a different approach
"If we look at today, our country is facing three critical problems," said Johari
"Firstly, the political crisis between members of the Parliament who support the government and those who do not. They clash because one says they have a majority and the other does not.
"This causes people to see an unstable political situation, which will in turn cause a lot of other difficulties. I want to remind the Malay people to not clash among themselves until 'yang menang jadi arang, kalah jadi abu, menang sorak kampung tergadai' (even the winners also end up losing)," said Johari.
The second thing is the COVID-19 health crisis that is also affecting the rest of the world. Johari believes that by uniting leaders at every level to overcome the pandemic, we can manage the health crisis together.
"Thirdly, the political instability and health crisis have also given birth to an economic crisis.
"The economic crisis is very serious. If we don't handle it properly, it could be like a moving car that comes to a sudden halt, and ends up going backwards," he said, adding that a very different approach is required to tackle all of these crises happening at the same time.
When asked about the appointment of Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob as Deputy Prime Minister, Johari said that UMNO was happy for him to receive the post
"I think that he is the right person to be DPM. But the thing that troubles me is this – why has this post not been filled for almost 15 to 16 months, since March 2020?" questioned Johari.According to Johari, UMNO previously decided they did not want to accept the post of Deputy Prime Minister in a Supreme Council Meeting (MKT) in Janda Baik, Pahang last February. However, there has been no noise among UMNO leaders despite the latest appointment. This has led Johari to point out a lack of consistency.
In the interview, Johari also said that maintaining unity within the party is very important
"When we enter a political party, we must agree that the party is bigger than its leader, members, or individuals. We must make sure that when the party makes a decision, we abide by it. If we don't, our party will be in trouble. When everyone wants to follow their own ideas, it's difficult.
"Even when Datuk Zahid (Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi) was running for president, I did not support him. I supported Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah. But when Datuk Zahid won, I agreed to it because I respected the party’s decision. I have never been hostile to Datuk Zahid, because I respect the majority of people who voted for him, and I support him. The important thing is that the party does not split. If there are members who don't like the president, you can wait for the next party election," he said.
Johari believes that to change the negative perception of UMNO, the party has to go back to its roots
"If we can refocus back to our party's original goal of upholding race, religion, and country, I am sure that we can return (to lead the government). However, if we still carry a warlord culture in a party with many young professionals, the smart ones out there will not be interested in this party," he said.
Johari went on to point out that Pakatan Harapan has 22 MPs who are aged 45 and below, while Perikatan Nasional has only two.
"We have won 13 times, they have won once. We can't all run just because we've lost this once. If this continues, the party will be destroyed. In this matter, we have to learn from the opposing party. DAP (Democratic Action Party) in GE (General Election) 2004 only won 12 parliamentary seats, but remained steadfast in their fight to ultimately win 42 seats in the previous GE 2018. Similarly, PKR (Parti Keadilan Rakyat) won only one seat in GE 2004, but won 50 seats in 2018," Johari shared.
All in all, Johari believes there is still hope for Malaysia
"We are not doing that bad. But if we can't learn from the mistakes we've made in the 17 months dealing with COVID-19, chances are, we will be in a more difficult situation.
"Our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell by 5.6% in 2020 as a result of the Movement Control Order (MCO). But by 2021 we already have two MCOs, if it continues like this with the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) and others, I don't know if this economy (can survive) and investor confidence can continue," said Johari.