Time to Curb Malaysia’s Racial Attack Dogs

By Salim Osman – The Jakarta Globe | May 23, 2011

As racial tensions rise in Malaysia, one organization causing ripples in the country is Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa).

The group pushed the political temperature to a new high when its president, Ibrahim Ali, on May 14 threatened to wage a crusade against Christians if they turned Malaysia into a Christian state, as claimed by Utusan Malaysia newspaper in a report on an alleged Christian conspiracy.

Christian leaders accused the newspaper of fabrication. Utusan, which is owned by the United Malays National Organisation, the dominant party in the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, is being investigated for the report, which it maintains is true.

Perkasa has become the new player in race politics with Ibrahim, 59, a maverick politician, able to make seditious remarks with impunity.

The group emerged in the aftermath of the March 2008 general election, when UMNO’s hold on power was threatened by the loss of substantial Malay votes to the opposition. Perkasa became the answer to the Malay search for a new entity to represent them as their pressure group, UMNO Youth, was in lethargy.

Ibrahim, an independent Member of Parliament, said in interviews that the group was set up to protect the Malays’ special position as stated in Article 153 of the Constitution. “If Malays do not come out and defend themselves, others will climb on our heads,” said the former UMNO politician.

Perkasa’s supporters are assertive in their defense of Malay rights. They are uncompromising on Islam, the Malay language and the royalty ‑ the core of Malay identity.

While Ibrahim argues that he is merely defending Malay rights, others find his views extreme and say Perkasa does not fit in a civil society.

Tacitly backed by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Prime Minister Najib Razak, Perkasa and its 300,000 members was initially viewed as an extension of UMNO used to galvanize the Malays, which could take on a more radically pro-Malay stance than the party.

And despite its vociferous articulation of Malay rights that borders on racism and extremism, Perkasa as avoided the plight of Hindraf, the Hindu rights group, which has been outlawed.

While top UMNO leaders back it, other party leaders have warned that the Barisan could lose non-Malay support if UMNO does not dissociate itself from Perkasa.

Concerns have been expressed about Perkasa’s agenda. For one, it agreed to spearhead a movement that aims to mobilize Malays and Bumiputeras to counter the Chinese shift to the opposition in the recent Sarawak state election.

The group also set up a paramilitary wing, Briged Setia Negara, or National Loyalty Brigade, to look after security earlier this month. This has raised eyebrows, especially since Ibrahim has vowed to defend Islam even if Perkasa members have to die “sprawling in blood.”

There are thus grounds for the Najib administration to review its policy towards Perkasa and rein in the group before it causes more damage to already fragile ethnic ties.

First, although its agenda is to champion Malay rights, Perkasa is riding roughshod in pushing for them, trampling the rights of other communities.

Perkasa is pitting UMNO against its partner, the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), in the aftermath of the Sarawak election. It accused the MCA of not delivering the Chinese votes and lambasted the Chinese as ungrateful because they supported the opposition.

Second, the Malay group stands in the way of reforms Najib promised when he became prime minister in 2009.

Perkasa led several Malay groups to oppose the New Economic Model (NEM) mooted by Najib to transform Malaysia into a high-income and high-growth economy by 2020. They objected to the NEM goal of shifting the affirmative action strategy from ethnic- to needs-based, forcing the prime minister to backtrack.

Due to such pressures, the government introduced Teraju, a new unit for the Malays and Bumiputeras, which critics say would dilute the NEM and likely send the wrong message to foreign investors who have been hopeful of reform.

Third, Perkasa appears to have its own agenda that may be different from that of UMNO. It has redefined the 1Malaysia policy by demanding that the concept be based on Malay privileges, which will polarize the country.

Fourth, the group is becoming less tolerant of others and takes extremist positions as reflected by its reaction to the alleged Christian conspiracy report and the row over the Christian use of the word Allah in Malay bibles.

The prime minister needs to deal with the Perkasa problem firmly. Ignoring it will affect his credibility and let the Malay ultra rights group hijack UMNO’s agenda to the detriment of the country.

  1. #1 by hallo on Tuesday, 24 May 2011 - 7:17 pm

    They are used as puppets to protect the criminals corrupted politicians

    Any changes of Putra Jaya Administration all these called leaders are booked to jail

    After 13th Election any changes of GOV, there will be hardly few opposition leaders as they are running away be charged as corrupted criminals.

    Who know maybe Malaysia already bankrupt

  2. #2 by waterfrontcoolie on Tuesday, 24 May 2011 - 10:42 pm

    It looks like the WHOLE WORLD is watching a bunch of ignoramuses bending on grabbing news headlines based on 19th century thinking. There is nothing to prove to the world except a froup of bankrupts in every respectnof the word! And yet we have national leaders supporting them tactically against general public opinion! It just shows how much confidence they have got!!

  3. #3 by Bigjoe on Wednesday, 25 May 2011 - 5:03 am

    I think the point is Indonesian, the home of Jemaah Islamiah, and numerous ethnic strive that results in attacks and killings, telling us to curb our ‘racial dogs’ has extra meaning especially given how we used to be the one to lecture them about handling internal security..

  4. #4 by Mike Tee on Wednesday, 25 May 2011 - 7:29 am

    This is the double act of two rotweirrers keep by UMNO. Don’t fall for it.
    The script of play was written by UMNO, because if the story is true and was written by any other people outside BN, it will be arrest FIRST and investigate LATER. As it is now hardly any investigation and seem no arrest, it must be one of the plots, these included alleged Anwar sex vodeo.
    The present UMNO leaders will come up more script of play run up to the near election, WATCH this space !!!

You must be logged in to post a comment.