Tawfik Ismail ostracised by G25 amid members’ discomfort

-A +A

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 4): Tawfik Ismail, the son of the late Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, said he was told to go on a "sabbatical" from G25 after his statements to the press last year left some members of the moderates group unhappy.

He told The Malaysian Insider that he no longer received emails from the group or get invited to their meetings, but said he still considered himself a member as he believed in G25's goals of reforming the administration of Islam in Malaysia.

"G25 is a rather peculiar organisation because it's not a formal body. There's no membership fees, no forms, no committee. If you're invited to be a member, there's no mechanism to disinvite you," Tawfik told The Malaysian Insider.

"I consider myself still a member in the sense that I subscribe to the goals of G25, which is the nationalisation of the political and social environment with regard to the place of Islam in a multicultural and multiracial society."

He said he had been "blasted" by the group for giving interviews last year on their meetings with Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

But Tawfik said he had only disclosed to the press his own conversation with the two figures, and not the full details of their meeting.

"I didn't disclose all the information, only what was relevant to the context of their credibility in opposing Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

"And after the articles came out, Muhyiddin didn't say a word about it while Dr Mahathir confirmed and addressed some of the statements I had made to the press. Their reaction showed they weren't even offended by what I did."

Despite this, The Malaysian Insider understands that some members of G25 felt Tawfik's media interviews had left a negative impression of the group on the public.

They were angered that he had allegedly betrayed Muhyiddin and Dr Mahathir's trust by divulging what had transpired in the meetings.

This prompted the group to meet on November 16, where they decided Tawfik should go on a sabbatical and not be invited to any of its activities, including its forum "Islam in a Constitutional Democracy" on December 6.

Some members, however, wanted him removed from the group entirely, calling his membership a burden.

But Tawfik argued there was no proof any of his statements had harmed G25.

"Their credibility was not affected by what I had done, it had not prevented G25 from being invited to events. Nobody stayed away from them," he said.

He added that G25 spokesman Datuk Noor Farida's comments that khalwat laws should be reviewed may have had a more adverse impact on G25.

Despite this, Tawfik said he still supported G25's objectives and policies.

"I think there is no difference between my beliefs and that of G25. The problem is that some personalities believe the group's position is threatened by my being vocal," he said.

"I think the most important question to be asked right now is, who runs G25?"

Noor Farida did not respond to The Malaysian Insider's request for comments.