BUT MY FRIEND
KEE TUAN CHYE
GET THE HINT?
|The Sultan of Selangor has done the right thing in withdrawing from his earlier agreement to open the inaugural general meeting of Pertubuhan Peribumi Perkasa Negara (Perkasa) on March 27. Although the reason given is that the Sultan does not want to be seen to be supporting a politician, namely, Ibrahim Ali, who heads the NGO, the more important implication is that right-wing organisations, even though they are championing Malay rights, have to be “tolerant and respect other races” and operate within existing laws. |
Such a message is timely, especially since the country seems more divided than ever along racial lines. After the 2008 general election, Umno and certain individuals have been playing on racial sentiments to win back the Malays who had voted against the party, by warning them that the race is under threat. This has provided the impetus for organisations like Perkasa to garner support and step up right-wing activism.
If Ibrahim Ali is to be believed, Perkasa is attracting new members every day. He expects a gathering of 10,000 at the March 27 general meeting, which is pretty phenomenal for an organisation that is only one and a half years old. He has since gone on to form the Majlis Perunding NGO Melayu, a consultative council comprising 80 or so NGOs pledging to defend Malay rights, the institution of the Malay rulers and Islam.
Logically speaking, there seems no need to defend any of these because no one is foolhardy enough to fight them. The special position of the Malays is well protected, the Malay rulers are on a strong wicket, and Islam is firmly entrenched as the main religion of the country. The administration of this country, backed by the military and other institutions, is committed to ensuring that they will be upheld. Who would be bold or strong enough to go against that?
This is, however, not logical enough for Perkasa and its comrades. The Majlis Perunding NGO Melayu has asked to meet with Prime Minister Najib Razak before he announces his New Economic Model, which is expected to be soon. Ibrahim Ali, who is also their spokesman, has made it clear that “we want any policy made by the Government to get support from all quarters”. He also said that “if the Government wants the support of NGOs, (it) should also give due consideration to our views and feelings”.
This stance taken by Ibrahim and the council of NGOs reflects what the Jews would call chutzpah. They are thus encouraged probably because the Government has been taking a tolerant attitude towards them. Some political observers feel that the Government is actually making use of these right-wingers to articulate what the Government itself can’t, without contradicting its outward advocacy for 1Malaysia. Perkasa and its ilk serve the purpose of uniting those Malays who feel they are under threat, which Umno welcomes, while Najib goes about wooing the non-Malays with his multi-racial sloganeering.
Meanwhile, yet another right-wing group has emerged. Calling itself the Organisation of Former Umno Elected Representatives, it purports to champion Malay interests in the fields of economics, education, religion and language. That seems to somewhat duplicate the agenda of Perkasa and the Majlis Perunding NGO Melayu but it doesn’t seem to matter to its members. Perhaps they feel that by dint of their being former Umno representatives, they may be better received and considered more influential.
The trend, on the whole, is rather disturbing. The rise of the right wing could further widen the communication and harmony gap between the different races. It’s already giving the impression that a section of the Malays are getting agitated. The sad thing is, they’re getting agitated for the wrong reasons. Their enemy is not the non-Malays, but the right-wing leaders would have them believe this is so. And this is being abetted by the mainstream media.
Khalid Samad, the PAS MP for Shah Alam, recently said that Perkasa is “not a problem”. He asserted that “they don’t have much influence in society”. One hopes he is right. If the right-wing elements within Umno itself should be empowered by this growing development, the consequences might be dire. An Umno controlled by right-wingers is not a pretty prospect. Imagine a Malaysia regressing into becoming an ethnocentric culture when the signs of progress are pointing in the opposite direction. We will all lose out.
One of the messages conveyed by the Sultan of Selangor’s private secretary, Lela Bakti Mohamad Munir Bani, when announcing His Highness’s decision to not officiate at Perkasa’s meeting, contains much-needed advice: “Perkasa should be tolerant and respect other races in Malaysia, live in harmony and work together to develop the country.” There’s nothing equivocal in that message. If Perkasa still doesn’t get the hint, those who support it deserve what they get.
MY TURN TO
WHO'S BREWING THESE
AND WHAT ABOUT THIS FROM DATUK SAK
The speed by which Perkasa has taken leadership on the issue of Malay economics over sleepy UMNO, can only suggest that UMNO people have not been thinking about economics. Instead they are easily sidetracked into nonsensical things such as making police reports about Anwar using the name of Agong and all that. That's not going to save UMNO if Malay economy is kaput. Forget Anwar. Ibrahim Ali is mowing down your legitimacy.
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