Mohammad Asghar (30 September 1945 - 16 June 2020) known as Oscar, was a Welsh politician, who was a member of the Welsh Conservative Party, the Welsh Labour Party, and Plaid Cymru. He came to prominence after being elected to the Senedd Cymru in 2007 as a member of Plaid Cymru on the list for South Wales East. He is best known for being the first ethnic minority and Muslim member of the Senedd, and being the first AM who was a member of a political party to defect to another party.
1 Background and career
2 Expenses scandal and corruption
3 Controversy over 2011 election candidacy
4 Newport council election 2011
5 Mosque election dispute
6 Awards and nominations
7 Personal life
10 External links
11 Offices held
Background and career
Born in Peshawar (then in British India) to Aslam Khan and Zubaida Aslam. Asghar gained a BA from Peshawar University before moving to Wales to complete a course in accountancy in Newport. Asghar initially joined the Conservative party, remaining a member for some two decades, later joining the Labour party in the 1990s. He joined Plaid Cymru some time after becoming Wales’ first Muslim councillor, representing Victoria ward on Newport City Council. He has stood for Plaid Cymru in general elections. His daughter Natasha Asghar also stood as a Plaid Cymru candidate in the 2007 Elections, and also joined the Conservative party at the same time he did so.
On 8 December 2009, Asghar became the first AM to cross the floor, defecting from Plaid Cymru to the Conservative Party. He claimed that he felt "out of tune" with Plaid policies, described himself as a royalist and unionist, and stated that he felt like "a little parrot in a jungle". Plaid Cymru called on Asghar to resign his seat following his defection.
Asghar married his wife, Firdaus, in 1983; they have one daughter.
Expenses scandal and corruption
Issues were raised regarding two staff members remaining on permanent paid leave until the Welsh assembly was dissolved in 2011. Asghar has gone on record as stating that MEP Jillian Evans offer to give his daughter work experience was a significant factor in his decision to defect from the Labour party to Plaid Cymru.
Controversy over 2011 election candidacy
"I was told that failure to re-adopt Mr Asghar could lead to my possible suspension from the party whilst an investigation was carried out to see if there were any racial motives for him not being adopted. This I found deeply offensive, resulting in a great deal of pressure being put upon me to deliver the desired outcome for the party hierarchy."
Following his call for an investigation into Asghar's selection, Fouweather was asked by the Conservative Party to stand down as Chair of the South-East Wales Area Council.
Newport council election 2011
In December 2011, Asghar emailed fellow Conservatives asking them to support his wife in a vacant Newport City Council seat two days after the incumbent Les Knight had died. The email read: I am very sad about Coun Les Knight although it seems that things are already moving on in terms of the Allt-yr-yn seat. I would be very grateful if you could consider Firdaus Asghar to stand in the elections from Allt-yr-yn. I am sure you are aware that Firdaus has lived in the ward for more than 20 years and worked closely with Coun Knight on many constituency matters.
One of the Conservative councillors who received the email said: I was extremely shocked to get this email, which I found in appallingly bad taste. I have known Les and his wife for more than 30 years and am very sad at his death. When I received the email the funeral arrangements hadn’t even been made. Sending an email like this was callous and in extremely poor taste. I can’t imagine what was meant by ‘things are already moving on in terms of the Allt-yr-yn seat.'
Asghar later apologised for the email, and confirmed that his wife would not be standing for election in the forthcoming elections.
Mosque election dispute
In 2011, Asghar was involved in a dispute with members of the Jamia Mosque and Al-Noor Mosque, the two largest Sunni mosques in Newport, during which some members accused him of aggressively opposing the introduction of democratic elections for the mosques' leadership. Asghar was subsequently issued with an ex parte court injunction, forbidding him from attending either mosque. In December 2011, members of the two mosques applied to have the injunction extended. The injunction was instead lifted, when a Cardiff County Court judge instructed the two parties to come to a private agreement.
Awards and nominations
In January 2014 and 2015, Asghar was nominated for the Politician of the Year award at the British Muslim Awards.
He was a qualified pilot and spoke Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi fluently.
His wife was called Firdaus and a daughter called Natasha.
He ran with the Olympic torch in 1964 and campaigned for Wales to have its own cricket team.
Asghar died on 16 June 2020 after being rushed to hospital earlier in the day.
About cookies on this site
ALLOW ALL COOKIES