IPOH, Nov 6 — Datuk Mohammad Kazim Elias, who withdraw from contesting the Larut parliamentary seat hours after being named as the Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate, today clarified that it was due to a “family matter”.
The popular Islamic preacher said that he would stand firm on his principle to not contest in elections if family members are candidates in the same constituency.
“It is my late mother’s will (wasiat), who advised me to not contest if my brothers are standing as candidates in the same constituency,” he told a press conference at the Al Barakah Educational Centre here.
Kazim explained that he had accepted the offer from Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to contest as he wasn’t aware that his brother had also signed documents to contest the same constituency.
His brother Capt (R) Datuk Mohd Najmuddin Elias is contesting the Batu Kurau state seat under the Perikatan Nasional banner, which is also under the Larut constituency.
“I thought that my brother was not contesting, and he also thought the same. We had not communicated over the matter.
“I only knew on the day of the announcement that my brother was also contesting. After discussions, I decided to pull out.
“I have submitted a letter on the matter to Zahid to inform my withdrawal. However, he only received the letter after announcing the candidates,” he explained.
Kazim also said that he had previously informed Zahid, who is also Umno president, of his condition that he will not run for election against his brothers in the same constituency, to which Kazim said the matter was agreed on by both parties.
“So this is why they accepted my decision and fielded a new candidate. Maybe others and the public wouldn’t have known the agreement between me and the president,” he said.
Kazim also said that he did not join Umno to contest the seat, but was merely contesting under the banner of BN.
“I was never an Umno member nor did I join the party to contest this election. This is why when Ahmad Zahid offered me the chance to contest, I asked him whether I could without being an Umno member.
“The party president told me it was okay with me not being a member, as they wanted people of various professional and religious backgrounds to contribute their experience and expertise, and thus I was chosen,” said Kazim.
He also said Ahmad Zahid never forced him to join Umno.
On the allegation that he pulled out from contesting due to a “mysterious skin disease”, Kazim said he had sought alternative treatment at Medina.
“I was in Medina for four days in the beginning of September, where I was treated and cured.
“I am now well and have travelled to various states. If I was sick, then you would not have seen me going around. I would probably be lying in bed,” he said.
When asked if he would be supporting his brother or the new candidate from Umno, Mohd Shafiq Fhadly Mahmud, an engineer, who replaced him during the campaign, Mohammad Kazim said he will help as long as he was not seen as representing any political party.
“I will go anywhere to give religious talks on harmony, family ties, unity, and positive talks, but I will not represent any political parties.
“Anyone that wants to invite me, must make sure that no coalition or party flags are involved, the candidates should not campaign at the event, and I will not be siding with or campaigning for them either,” he said.
Kazim also said he is not affected by or worried about the backlash or criticism that he received after withdrawing as a candidate.
“There is no point hurling abusive words at one another, because at the end of the day, it is just politics.
“After GE15 is over, we are bound to meet at the market, mosque and so forth, so it is better to just use good words instead of abusive ones,” he said.
Kazim had in 2018 said he was offered to contest the 14th general election, but rejected the offer as he loved his tahfiz school more.
His brothers Datuk Mohd Najmuddin and Ahmad Hasbullah are both leaders in Perak Umno.
His school Tahfiz Darul Barakah in Manjoi was previously embroiled in a sexual abuse case involving its students, but police investigations stalled. The facility is now under new management.