KOTA KINABALU, Nov 3 — Warisan president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal has said offering Malaysians another choice is important, in response to accusations that his party is trying to gain a foothold in an already crowded national political landscape.

Riding on the platform of a multicultural, issue-driven party, Shafie said that it was time to do away with divisive racial- and religious-based politics and give Malaysians another viable choice.

“It is about giving them a choice. Must it be Umno, Bersatu, Pakatan Harapan (PH), PKR or DAP only? Maybe it is time winds from the east reach here. Why not? The Malays won’t collapse without Umno. The Chinese won’t collapse without DAP. Islam in this country won’t collapse without PAS. That’s why we are providing the choice,” he said.

The Semporna MP said that the current political scenario was unhealthily focused on race and religion when it should be issues driven.

He said in developed nations, established parties do not use race or religion as a political tool but talk about livelihood, jobs, education, welfare, health and security while practising their own religion.

“Religion is important, but that is personal, between you and your beliefs. There are more important, tangible things to consider. But that doesn’t mean Islam will deteriorate,” he said.

Shafie was speaking during an interview with Tan Sri Johan Jaaffar.

He also told the veteran journalist that there was no reason a Sabahan or Sarawakian should not be able to lead the country and said that it was only fair game.

He also reiterated that he was not gunning for the role of prime minister, but that he was merely offering an option.

“PM, DPM, that is not my ambition,” said the former Umno vice-president.

“I’m not obsessed. I do not have high ambitions to hold the posts. But if you ask if I am PM material, why not? I have relevant national experience having served the government in all kinds of capacity for 32 years.

“I can offer myself, but it is up to the people,” he said.

Warisan, which started in Sabah a few years ago after Shafie was suspended from Umno after clashing with then president Datuk Seri Najib Razak, had previously joined forces with PH to form the federal government as well as the Sabah state government.

They have since parted ways, but Warisan has taken a new direction, spreading its wings to West Malaysia and has been working closely with youth-based party Muda.

It, however, took a hit recently when two of its elected representatives — Sindumin assemblyman Datuk Dr Yusof Yaacob and Lahad Datu MP and Segama state assemblyman Datuk Mohamadin Ketapi — quit the party to support the state and federal government.