PERKASA – time to rein them in

Posted on July 11, 2010

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On Mar 27 Malay-based NGO Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Indigenous Malay Empowerment Organisation – PERKASA) launched its first general meeting  at the PWTC in Kuala Lumpur . The Sultan of Selangor had turn down to attend and  open the inaugural general meeting.  The Sultan decision was right as he cannot be associated with or seen supporting any politician such as  Ibrahim Ali who heads PERKASA.  The Sultan has always advocate that all citizens need to be “tolerant and respect other races” and operate within existing laws and this event to champion Malay rights is not according to his wishes.  Most of the CEO’s  of the government-linked companies (GLCs) also declined to attend. Those who attended were  former premier Dr Mahathir , his son Mukhriz who is Deputy International Trade and Industry minister, and Deputy Finance Minister Awang Adek.  Noticeably absent was the Prime Minister and his Deputy. PERKASA started as a NGO about a year and half ago whose main purpose is  to champion Malay rights, the institution of the Malay rulers and Islam. I feel this is a slap in UMNO face as they are directly telling off UMNO the latter had failed in its efforts. I supposed Najib had approved the setup of PERKASA to appease those right wing Malays. PERKASA expected a turnout of at least 10000 people but less than 2000 members turn up. Dr Mahathir graced the occasion delivering the keynote address.

During the last few months, we have seen the tactics and strategy used by PERKASA to push their agenda championing Malay rights. I have nothing against PERKASA and their noble purpose but the way they build up mountain out from molehills and creating fire without any smoke is disturbing. I’d say all their rhetorics to date is obviously and clearly against the Prime Minister Najib 1Malaysia concept. Najib , being a politician first has no choice but to succumb on several occasions to PERKASA demands. I’d say Najib is sandwiched between his 1Malaysia and PERKASA’s call for more affirmative actions for the Malays.
On 10jun , Najib had revised his New Economic Model and announced the continual support of 30 % equity by Malays in his development plans. Najib had also being relatively quiet over the calls by some of his Ministers and UMNO officials that PERKASA’s activities  need to be controlled. On 14 Jun, president Datuk Hadi Awang had said PAS does not feel threatened by the emergence  of PERKASA , saying “It is clear to Malay voters that such groups are being helmed by Umno even if the latter denies it” . Two days later, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohd Nazri denied and said had that PERKASA ” is an NGO and is in no way related to the Malaysian government…This issue has no bearing on the question of whether or not the government is capable of looking out for the Malays, because Malaysia is a government for all and will look out for the rights of all Malaysians” .

PERKASA’s efforts to fight for Malay rights was shown even on the business world when it try to influence corporate policy, criticising Bank Negara  rejection of a bid by lender Affin Holdings, part-owned by the Malaysian Armed Forces Pension fund, to enter merger talks with larger rival EON Capital. When I first read about this I was surprised and the argument put forward by PERKASA was so obviously racially motivated and its reasoning were just plain unjustifiable. This is what I meant by creating fire without any smoke. PERKASA reasoning that this rejection now allow Hong Leong Bank, controlled by  Chinese billionaire Quek Leng Chan, as sole bidder for EON’s banking assets. Their statements were incredulous  ” What more do they (the Chinese) want? It’s in the national interest that we balance bumiputera participation in the banking sector and this merger between Affin and EON Capital can be the instrument,”. Bank Negara had rightly defended  its decisions from an economic and legal perspective ignoring and downplaying PERKASA demands. A weaker Governor would have succumb to this political pressure.

The last two weeks we had seen another interesting “fight” between PERKASA and MCA. On 23 Jun Ibrahim Ali attacked Deputy Minister of Education Wee Ka Siong over his statement urging the government to maintain the Public Service Department (PSD) scholarships. Wee’s words were ” If the government is only doing away with the PSD scholarships but retains the Mara scholarships, this will not be in line with the 1Malaysia concept that the government is promoting.” Ibrahim Ali accused Wee of being “insolent” for allegedly questioning the Mara scholarships, saying “Mara scholarships are provided for in our constitution in Article 153. His (Wee) questioning is rude and he is not fit to be a deputy minister….If Wee thinks that the government should continue with PSD scholarships, he can recommend this but should not bring Mara into this”. He added that 100 percent of Malay students should rightfully get government scholarships as it is provided for by the federal constitution. Perhaps Ibrahim Ali was finding a way to strike back at Wee when in May he had openly blamed PERKASA as a major cause of the Chinese community’s decision to reject Barisan Nasional during the few recent by-elections.

UMNO Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin had came out and defended Wee’s statements saying that Wee was not questioning Malay rights or even suggesting that Mara scholarships should be scrapped, and that Ibrahim had misunderstood the latter’s intention. At the press conference he said ” “I don’t understand what is wrong with the statement. It is ridiculous because he was not questioning the social contract. He just said that we cannot take away the scholarships,” . To rub salt into the wound, Khairy further said “PERKASA, in principle, is good but its president, Datuk Ibrahim Ali, would sometimes go overboard and resort to arguing. This includes pitting Barisan Nasional component parties against one another..This is dangerous for us to achieve the noble objectives of 1Malaysia,”.

Few days later, Wee had tweeted saying he had met Ibrahim Ali and that “I defended the statement that I had made. He then shook hands with me. Was told he’s under tremendous pressure by Perkasa exco to whack me OMG!” – this is what I call Politics !

The war of words has now turn over to be between Ibrahim Ali and Khairy. Ibrahim Ali came out with a strong statement denouncing Khairy saying PERKASA existence was the result of the void left by Umno Youth, which is weakening because of Khairy’s leadership.  Khairi had insulted him saying he was jaguh kampung (village hero) whose racist rhetoric was working against the government’s 1Malaysia policy. However he was  unperturbed with the remarks, and he welcomed it because he understood Malay grassroots grouses better than the overseas-born Khairy, saying ““I am happy (with Khairy’s comments) because I was born with the mosquitoes in the village and not born in Kuwait, what more being educated in Oxford,”.
Ibrahim also sarcastically suggested that Khairy be made the permanent representative to the United Nations because “only he understands globalisation”.  Khairy retorted through Twitter postings by invoking his memories of Ibrahim’s shockingly vulgar remarks during an interview with a satellite news channel Al Jazeera in March , “I thank Ibrahim for his confidence in me when recommending me as Malaysia ambassador to the UN. At least I won’t talk sh*t on Al Jazeera,”. Continuing with the barrage,  Khairi went further saying Ibrahim’s tack should be changed from from jaguh kampung to, in the latter’s native Kelantanese tongue, a gedebe oportunis (opportunistic gangster). “Without PAS support, he would have lost in his own kampung of Pasir Mas… just like how he lost his deposit in the 2005 by-election..He is an enemy of 1Malaysia. ‘Jaguh kampung’ is too respectable a term for him”.

I respect and laud Khairi for voicing out his arguments and defending Wee. There are several interpretations for his action wand questions on his sincerity. I’d think he is indeed sincere and he just wanted to have a chance to hentam Ibrahim. It could also be viewed as a political move to show his support for Najib. His bad guy role in this incident could be a pathway to further growth in his career , possibly a Deputy Ministership. Whatever it may be, it did took a lot of guts to say what he’d said. The UMNO youth members had been noticeably quiet on Khairy’s attacks on Ibrahim, another hint that he has already the support of his men ? Khairy did not stop at just his tweets, he went a step further and urged the Home Ministry to probe Suara Perkasa over an article subsequently published demanding  Wee Ka Siong be detained under the Internal Security Act . Khairy said the added the news tabloid  seems to be instigating tension and this should not be allowed. “Asking Ka Siong to be detained under the ISA is deliberately instigating (hatred) and the ministry should look into it,” .

This stunt by PERKASA to have Wee detained under ISA is a joke. Obviously what PERKASA wants to achieve is to stick to their condemnation of Wee and wanted to blow it up to a major racial issue. All this for what purpose , but just to push their agenda as the rightful champions of Malay. I don’t think the Home Ministry and the Barisan Nasional coalition is that dumb to fall into their trap. I always view Ibrahim Ali as one guy who had already die politically but is using PERKASA as a means to resuscitate himself.

MCA Youth , I supposed under pressure and do not wish to be seen weak ( ( after seeing what Khairi had done ) lodged a police report against Suara Perkasa asking the Home Ministry to revoke PERKASA publication licence.
Perkasa deputy president, Abdul Rahman Bakar, said the new tabloid is a way to portray and fight for Malay rights, in line with Perkasa’s struggles. When requested  to report to the police for questioning, chief Editor Daud Ibrahim proudly said “I take this as a challenge because there is yet to be a newspaper that is based on the concept on defending the Malays. I will grant my fullest cooperation…The publication will address issues affecting Malays like scholarships, culture, language, and limited economic and job opportunities. The focus will be on Malay rights as enshrined in Article 153 of the federal constitution,”
Daud’s comments make me laugh. May I asked – Who is attacking the Malays ?? The Non- Malays ? The Malays themselves are already divided. Now we have three obvious class of Malays in the country – those in the ruling party  UMNO, the opposition Parti Keadailan Rakyat, and PAS,  the NGO’s eg GERTAK and PERKASA. What the heck ! – even in UMNO itself the Malays are feuding among themselves for political power. On 6 Jul, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had warned the Malays that they face the possibility of losing political power if they continue to be divided, saying “That’s why we must be united to ensure that the political power that we hold is maintained. If we were divided, the political power that ensures our progress in the economic field and education will be lost. Few days later , Muhyiddin downplayed PERKASA saying the views of Malay rights group PERKASA do not represent the Government’s position and that it was Perkasa’s right to express its views on certain issues to protect its interests.

The MCA’s tirade on PERKASA went another step further when on 9 Jul, one of our clown Minister and MCA Vice-President Donald Lim  suggested that a Chinese version of PERKASA be setup  to counter the right-wing Malay group’s constant racial assaults. He suggested Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall be the body to do it. I was horrified to read about this. Donald Lim is a well educated Minister and to hear such rubbish proposals from him is unbelievable. He is in the Cabinet and should be supporting Najib 1Malaysia. Such an action will undoubtedly makes the situation worse. One don’t fight fire with fire. MCA should be smart enough not to fall into PERKASA trap by openly opposing them. What happen to the earlier decisions of MCA to just ignore PERKASA tantrums.  It is a stupid and irresponsible statement from the learned Minister.

Today , the war of words against PERKASA resume, this time from MIC , the Indian party in Barisan Nasional.  During the MIC annual general assembly, we find another joker, S Pulligesu  from Batu Gajah division condemning Ibrahim Ali as not working towards consolidating the races but is bent on splitting Malaysians along racial lines. I agreed with his point. What he said next was sensational : “In fact, he is free to say whatever he wants… no action is taken against him. But what is sad is that he is constantly attacking Indians and Chinese. He has even gone to the extent of asking the government to revoke the citizenship of other races…Whenever we ask for what is rightfully ours, Ibrahim and his members lash out at us and urge the government to revoke our citizenship….Who is he to to ask the government to revoke our citizenship? Instead the government should revoke the citizenship of this troublemaker “.
Pulligesu must be naive to think that the government will ever consider revoking Ibrahim Ali’s citizenship. This guy is just blowing his trumpet at the assembly , I view it as another case of politicking and to garner attention.

The PERKASA issue and all the problems created by them will continue,  until and unless the government rein them in and enforced controls on their actions. Like a small kid gone wild and naughty, sometimes the parent had just to give him good spanking. This is what PERKASA needs now. So will we see this? Your guess is as good as mine.