Perkasa – rebirth of a demon


By AB Sulaiman Malaysiakini

The birth of Malay NGO Perkasa is obviously causing a stir in the Malaysian social, intellectual and political landscape.

It has declared intention of acting as a “shield against those who question Malay rights, the royalty and Islam”, according to its founding head and Independent MP Ibrahim Ali.

The target and philosophy is thereby made clear – to protect and promote the sanctity of Islam, the martabat (dignity and honour) of the Malay people, and the spirit of nationalism. This falls under the ideology and banner of untuk agama, bangsa dan negara (for religion, race and nation).

But hasn’t the same philosophy and ideology been used by the Malay leadership in governing the country ever since Independence in 1957? Wasn’t it adopted in the interests of ketuanan Melayu (KM) after the launch of the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1970?

To be sure it is the same. Yet, over the last 52 years, it has not seen much success.

So what’s the idea of creating Perkasa now and making the defence and propagation of religion and race sound like a newfound revelation that must be pursued with such immediacy and enthusiasm? Against what threat is the shield designed to protect? From where does this come from anyway? It is indeed a puzzle.

The truth of the matter is that people today are tired of KM leadership. It is so blatantly racist and theological that even Malays are embarrassed by it. Today’s citizens think, listen, read, travel and demand more – they are better informed and knowledgeable, and reject racism and religious extremism.

They are also more aware of the situation around them. They are aware of the abuse of power, abuse of the NEP, corruption and the breakdown of institutions of governance. Civil society movements are agitating and demanding liberty and respect for universal human rights.

All this does not bode well for KM leadership, considering the realisation that KM has not really fought for Malay dignity and honour. It has been fighting more to fill the pockets of a few and to protect a small number of politically-connected individuals.

The disenchantment was amply demonstrated by the results of the 2008 election, leading to BN and Umno – the latter being the most active front for KM – losing the two-thirds majority in Parliament, and the Opposition gaining control of five states.

The influence of Umno is waning. Malays are running away from Umno, as are Chinese from MCA and Indians from MIC.

In other words, BN is in tatters. This is why Perkasa was hastily created – to stem this erosion of support.

Inherent illusions

This quick analysis and conclusion may or may not be right but, to me, it is entirely consistent with the facts and situations surrounding the formation of Perkasa.

I question why it is re-using the religion, race and nationalism card when this has been proven to be obsolete and irrelevant in bringing progress and change to Malay social and economic development. My scepticism is based on the following observations on KM-based thinking and its inherent prejudices and illusions:

  • It claims to hold the monopoly on truth. Such thinking holds the view that Islam is the only religion approved by god and that other religions are false. This perception of exclusivity is, of course absurd, for religion is a matter of faith between an individual and his or her god.
  • It caries the illusion that the Malay culture is the world’s foremost culture, with its pristine budi bahasa and sopan santun coupled with a high sense of morality. Again this is an absurd, unilateral claim, for any culture has its etiquette and morality, no better nor worse than any other. It can be seen therefore that the KM norm is decked with hyperbolism – that being Malay and Muslim is the luckiest draw in the lottery of life.
  • It can also be arrogant and has little or no tolerance for alternatives. Indeed its parameters have no avenue to realise its own mistakes. In short, it is black-and-white thinking: ‘I am right therefore you are wrong. If you are not for me then you are against me.’
  • It is a world of collective delusion of the superiority of the Malay culture and the uniqueness of Islam.

Well, the record of Malay governance has shown fairly conclusively that the religion- and race- based philosophy of governance has not worked. This is hardly surprising for any economics textbook will explain that the factors of economic production (or the creation of national wealth) are land, labour, capital and entrepreneurship. Of late, knowledge has been included. Further factors favouring the development of a civilisation are secularism, materialism and intellectualism.

Of these eight factors, none refer to race or religion. In concept and reality therefore, the KM formula for social and economic success is way off the mark. Indeed it has been a colossal mistake. The failure of the NEP is proof enough of this sobering contention.

I do not share the euphoria surround the formation of Perkasa. I do not see how its claim to protect race and religion can promote Malay socio-economic progress. Ibrahim’s declared intentions show all the promise of repeating the mistake and are an exercise in futility.

Given that this philosophy is no longer viable, it is still a wonder why Ibrahim still resorts to it. Can there be any reason for this? I have a hypothesis explaining his loyalty to a failed philosophy and ideology.

There is a denial syndrome inherent in KM thinking, particularly since it lacks an avenue for self-realisation of mistakes. It will go on thinking that it has been right all along, and that other alternatives are figments of the imagination of anti-Malay elements.

KM brooks no dissent. Liberal and liberated Malays are quickly branded as ungrateful and ‘mudah lupa’ (forgetful). Non-Malays are also branded as ungrateful for not appreciating the hospitality of the Malays in giving them citizenship.

KM then states that non-Malays wish to deprive Malays of their rights, hence the birth of Perkasa.

Hidden agenda

Perkasa has claimed an immediate membership of 5,000, with another 50,000 ahead. It has the direct support of former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad and incumbent deputy premier Muhyiddin Yassin. And barely a week ago, the Home Ministry issued a permit for its newsletter.

Based on all this, the suspicion is growing that Ibrahim may have a hidden agenda. As to what this is, only he can say for sure.

In any event, Perkasa’s future terms of reference are to recapture and nurture yesterday’s status quo:

  • Develop a herd mentality among Malays.
  • Delay or deny the sense of individual from developing in Malay psychology.
  • Promote the prevailing dependence mentality among Malays.
  • Nurture the sense of insecurity normally felt by the KM polity, namely political leaders, the ulama, civil servants and officials in government agencies such as the police, military, customs, immigration, and even the police and AG’s chambers.
  • Make all of them feel that the Malay ethnic group is still not ready to compete against the non-Malays and the rest of the world on a level plain.

With all this revitalised, Ibrahim can put his secret agenda into action.

All said and done, Perkasa’s birth reflects the real or perceived sense of desperation and paranoia of conservative and orthodox Malay thinking. Or, it is the rebirth of the spirit of ‘Malayness’ that has apparently dwindled over the past few decades due to the process of change.

It is the rebirth of the religion and race-based KM demon that does not know its game is up. And sad to note, in the name of religion and race, the KM does not want to learn from its own mistakes.

  • It claims to hold the monopoly on truth. Such thinking holds the view that Islam is the only religion approved by god and that other religions are false. This perception of exclusivity is, of course absurd, for religion is a matter of faith between an individual and his or her god.
  • It caries the illusion that the Malay culture is the world’s foremost culture, with its pristine budi bahasa and sopan santun coupled with a high sense of morality. Again this is an absurd, unilateral claim, for any culture has its etiquette and morality, no better nor worse than any other. It can be seen therefore that the KM norm is decked with hyperbolism – that being Malay and Muslim is the luckiest draw in the lottery of life.
  • It can also be arrogant and has little or no tolerance for alternatives. Indeed its parameters have no avenue to realise its own mistakes. In short, it is black-and-white thinking: ‘I am right therefore you are wrong. If you are not for me then you are against me.’
  • It is a world of collective delusion of the superiority of the Malay culture and the uniqueness of Islam.

Well, the record of Malay governance has shown fairly conclusively that the religion- and race- based philosophy of governance has not worked. This is hardly surprising for any economics textbook will explain that the factors of economic production (or the creation of national wealth) are land, labour, capital and entrepreneurship. Of late, knowledge has been included. Further factors favouring the development of a civilisation are secularism, materialism and intellectualism.

Of these eight factors, none refer to race or religion. In concept and reality therefore, the KM formula for social and economic success is way off the mark. Indeed it has been a colossal mistake. The failure of the NEP is proof enough of this sobering contention.

I do not share the euphoria surround the formation of Perkasa. I do not see how its claim to protect race and religion can promote Malay socio-economic progress. Ibrahim’s declared intentions show all the promise of repeating the mistake and are an exercise in futility.

Given that this philosophy is no longer viable, it is still a wonder why Ibrahim still resorts to it. Can there be any reason for this? I have a hypothesis explaining his loyalty to a failed philosophy and ideology.

There is a denial syndrome inherent in KM thinking, particularly since it lacks an avenue for self-realisation of mistakes. It will go on thinking that it has been right all along, and that other alternatives are figments of the imagination of anti-Malay elements.

KM brooks no dissent. Liberal and liberated Malays are quickly branded as ungrateful and ‘mudah lupa’ (forgetful). Non-Malays are also branded as ungrateful for not appreciating the hospitality of the Malays in giving them citizenship.

KM then states that non-Malays wish to deprive Malays of their rights, hence the birth of Perkasa.

written by AB SULAIMAN, who is an observer of human traits and foibles, especially within the context of religion and culture. As a liberal, he marvels at the way orthodoxy fights to maintain its credibility in a devilishly fast-changing world. He hopes to provide some understanding to the issues at hand and wherever possible, suggest some solutions. He holds a Bachelor in Social Sciences (Leicester, UK) and a Diploma in Public Administration, Universiti Malaya.

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  1. #1 by yhsiew on Wednesday, 10 March 2010 - 9:13 pm

    BN + Perkasa = End of BN

    Incidentally, Perkasa is Muhyiddin Yassin’s favorite NGO!!

  2. #3 by a2a on Wednesday, 10 March 2010 - 9:30 pm

    Are there anyone can run an Audit check on Perkasa members?

    Are there some of the Perkasa members are indonesian immigrants DECENDANT?

    MALAYSIANS want to know.

  3. #4 by SGPR on Wednesday, 10 March 2010 - 9:47 pm

    GE13 – Together we save malaysia

  4. #5 by HJ Angus on Wednesday, 10 March 2010 - 10:06 pm

    Good article.
    Here is what PERKASA can represent:

    People
    Expecting
    Rewards
    Korruptly
    Always
    Stifle
    Alternatives

  5. #6 by tanjong8 on Wednesday, 10 March 2010 - 10:12 pm

    Spore former prime ministers are still working for their people.

    In Malaysia, former PM Mahaltail is working for people like Perkasa.

    Is there any future for Bolehland ?

  6. #7 by ks lim on Wednesday, 10 March 2010 - 10:29 pm

    i can’t agree more than anyhing about abovesaid.we have to strike hard with our own integrity,determination,intelecture and tho most of all:-the good will of human nature

  7. #8 by cseng on Wednesday, 10 March 2010 - 10:30 pm

    This is the Umno Dilemma, not the Malay Dilemma. The race and religious politic is the lifeline of Umno. After the book ‘the Malay dilemma’, the Malay and their religious always need protection as they claimed? from nothing but their own shadow. I like what RPK said, Islam is a beautiful religion, is the Muslim (like zul., Ribuan-T and the likes) that make it looks ugly. The Malay is nice people, excluding the malayess displayed by Umxx and Perkiasu. It looks like Malaysia will be nice and beautiful country without ….

    50 years is a long time, don’t force it to 100 years for Umno’s Dilemma.

  8. #9 by Cinapek on Wednesday, 10 March 2010 - 11:03 pm

    Before those ardent Perkasa followers are further led down the garden path, perhaps they should ask thier exalted leader who were those Chinamen he was squatting with after he was cast into the wilderness for supporting Semangat 46 in the 80′s. They should also ask him what was he doing for his benfactors.

  9. #10 by ekans on Wednesday, 10 March 2010 - 11:15 pm

    Parallels can be seen when compared to an organisation formed about 80 years ago by an Austrian-born German who claimed that he was restoring the honour & dignity of the German people by proclaiming them the ‘master Aryan race’, and blamed the ‘lesser races’, especially the Jews, for the problems faced by Germany, especially during the Great Depression era after the Wall Street Crash of 1929.
    We all know what happened after that; that Austrian-born German became a megalomaniac who started a world war, claiming that his ‘Third Reich’ would last a thousand years, but in the end, his own life had met with an undignified end in an underground Berlin bunker as his enemies advanced to victory.

  10. #11 by sheriff singh on Thursday, 11 March 2010 - 12:24 am

    I vaguely remember Najib and his men exhorting his people to be “glocal”, “global” and “towering”.

    Looks like they are already wrong.

    People who want to remain and depend on crutches can’t go global, they have to remain under coconut shells.

    And they can’t “tower” as well as they will be stunted by their shells.

    Are we headed to be a nation of midgets who depend on handouts to survive?

  11. #12 by monsterball on Thursday, 11 March 2010 - 1:54 am

    Since after 12th GE..there is a non stop birth of so many good news for Malaysians..by Najib.
    That alone ….tells you…all the things they did wrong for 54 years…and force to rectify…right now…out of no choice.to fish for votes.
    Malaysians have a great alternative…and so…unfair and unjust promotion and advertising…applied…as good as any third world country…government..trying hard to establish a Dictatorship government…all over again.
    Najib must rely on racists and low IQ Malaysians…how many?
    Yes…Najib knows UMNO days are numbered….so out with all sorts of ideas..like the birth of Malaysia..just started.
    They will never dare to fight corruptions sincerely…as they know….majority voters…can possible to fooled by good news that maybe beneficial to the ordinary folks.
    In short….Najib…is applying new con style…to fish for votes.
    He is the God son of Mahathir….and we can see mamak is being revered by Najib…like a God.
    Bottom line…how many Malaysians can be fooled by UMNO BARU anymore.

  12. #13 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Thursday, 11 March 2010 - 5:48 am

    Well said, Perkasa is nothing but Satan clothed in flesh, as it were!

    Horrendous that Ibrahim Ali would choose the devils for his bedfellows to resurrect his (or Tun M’s) political careers.

    It is well to remember that Satan and his devils are destined for the lake of everlasting fire and condemnation. Say what u will but I believe the biblical account is the only highway for satan and his minions. It’s a deadend too. It wouldn’t take a guess to say that all par-iah politicians would be headed there too – with red carpets spread out for the welcome, courtesy of Satan and his flock.

  13. #14 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Thursday, 11 March 2010 - 5:51 am

    Ha, ha, sheriff singh, thanks for the reminder on Najib’s “Glocal” sloganeering.

    Listen to all those snickers, sneers and smears for all his stupid sloganeering. Ha, ha, ha.

    What an inglorious PM.

  14. #15 by Black Arrow on Thursday, 11 March 2010 - 7:57 am

    As for towering Malays, here are their names:-

    1) Tuan Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat (PAS)
    2) Dr. Dzulkefly Ahmad (PAS)
    3) Khalid Samad (PAS)

    All the men above are smart and brilliant intellectuals. Of course, there are none from UMNO.

  15. #16 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 11 March 2010 - 8:06 am

    While I don’t disagree on the details of the argument of AB Sulaiman, I don’t see Perkasa as an issue in the same perpective. More importantly, I don’t think the useful counter-argument to Perkasa is the way AB Sulaiman has put in no matter how accurate it may be.

    The thing about Perkasa is that its message, however flawed, is sensational, simple to understand, attractive to signficant group of people. Any argument against Perkasa has got to match it in that sense.

    My counter-argument against Perkasa is simple this – whatever their argument is, its based on key lies AND their proposal is old and does not work.

    Lie no 1. There is no special privilege, merely special position.
    Lie no 2: NEP has worked. It is more accurate to say it has not been a total failure.
    Lie no 3. The Chinese will take over. Given low birth rate and continue migration even without NEP, any, if at all, Chinese increase in share of economic pie will be temporary and impossible to dominate. Its simple not in the long run interest of the Chinese not to develop the Malay economics as an engine for growth given they are 2/3 of the population.

    So the bottom line with Perkasa is not so much a difference of view or intent. THEY ARE SIMPLY WRONG..

  16. #17 by dagen on Thursday, 11 March 2010 - 8:57 am

    Let me tell you wot. Its umnoputras all the same. They were playing with their little ketuanans in mass in an organised ketuanan stroking session. And together they then cum. When that happenned magically the umnoputras turned into perkumnoputras – the umnoputras of perkasa.

  17. #18 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 11 March 2010 - 9:15 am

    I want to add one thing.

    Lie no 4. He is not racist – When you based your agenda based on lies and its lies not even stretching of the truth or reinterpretation, you are racist. Period.

    Ask any first grade English teacher the difference between privilege and position. He is simply wrong.

  18. #19 by PSM on Thursday, 11 March 2010 - 9:30 am

    Bro Kit,

    Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it! Perkasa reminds me of the Nazi Party & the Japanese prior to World War II.
    Both of these “Racists” pushed their Racist agenda to the Max. However, as a result of their so-called “superiority”, we know what happened!
    Perkasa will go the same way eventually…i.e. reviled by ALL & buried forever in the anals of history!

  19. #20 by wanderer on Thursday, 11 March 2010 - 9:43 am

    The ‘demon’ has always been inside these ultra-fanatic racists!!
    In Malaysia, we have more than our fair share….

    In your blog YB Lim, you have our infamous chengho!

  20. #21 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 11 March 2010 - 11:23 am

    Someone pointed out Ibrahim Ali = Pauline Hanson, Perkasa = One Nation.

    Where is Pauline Hanson now? She is doing Dancing with the Stars AND LOST!!!

    Lets organise Dancing With The Stars in Malaysia so that Ibrahim Ali have a something to do after he is done…

  21. #22 by Motorist on Thursday, 11 March 2010 - 11:37 am

    The short of it is that these people are just common crooks who want to continue plundering our nation’s coffers.

    Racism is just a hobby & excuse to continue the wholesale plunder.

    Dupe the ignorant & under privileged. Promise them riches. Allow the illusion of superiority. Religion is wrongly used to enhance the image of saviour.

    All these are just mask to cover the criminal who has his hands in the till.

  22. #23 by Black Arrow on Thursday, 11 March 2010 - 2:01 pm

    Perkasa can still attract a following among the rural Malays and the uneducated kampung folk. It is good that PAS is in Pakatan.

  23. #24 by sotong on Thursday, 11 March 2010 - 6:14 pm

    They give into their fear and feed fear into others.

    These people need to recognise their weaknesses and insecurity and not blame others.

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