Three things we learned from: The Perkasa AGM

by Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
The Malay Mail Online
December 15, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 15 — The theme of Perkasa’s annual general assembly this year was “Social Contract and Rukunegara, the core foundation for peace in Malaysia”.

Unsurprisingly, leaders and members of the Malay rights group zoomed in yesterday on Malay and Bumiputera rights, and the need for stricter laws and policies to protect the country’s ethnic majority.

During debates, delegates lamented how Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) have not done enough to adequately safeguard the interests of this majority group, with one leader even suggesting that Perkasa turn itself into a political party to lead the country.

Umno, complained the leader, has fallen short of expectations.

Perkasa’s president, the outspoken Datuk Ibrahim Ali, even labelled those from Umno who have criticised the group as bangsat (bastards) and declared himself the true hero of the Malays and Islam.

Taking a leaf from their leader, others used the assembly for the same purpose – as a platform to rebut criticisms against Perkasa, an NGO that has successfully muscled its way into mainstream politics and planted itself firmly at the forefront, as a presence that even Umno daren’t ignore.

Here are three lessons we learned from Perkasa’s fifth general assembly:

1.The threat is not liberal Malays, it’s about daring to challenge the status quo

Ibrahim’s rebuttal to the recent open letter by 25 prominent Malays was that liberal-thinking Muslims are now out to destroy Islam in Malaysia, taking over from other anti-Malay and anti-Islam proponents from the the country’s non-Muslim communities.

The Perkasa president insisted that the views of the 25, whose open letter questioned Islamic laws and the religious authorities, were not representative of the majority of Malays here.

He said: “In 2015, we will be haunted by issues involving Islam’s defence. Malay liberals have now replaced those who want to destroy Islam”.

But Ibrahim may have got it wrong. The threat is not the fact that the 25 former civil servants and influential leaders defended the supremacy of the Federal Constitution over all other laws in the country. The threat is that they dared to challenge the status quo and the fact that Perkasa believes their myopic views on religion and race represent how most Malays here think.

The 25 prominent Malays had only reinforced the view held when Malaysia’s founding fathers drafted out the country’s highest laws – that while Islam is the religion of the federation and there is the Shariah Court, which deals with Muslim matters, the Federal Constitution remains the highest law of the land. This supreme law was made all-powerful simply because it recognises and caters to multi-ethnic and multi-religious Malaysia.

2. Corruption – a hindrance to both the Bumi agenda and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s reform plans

Interestingly, corruption within the civil service and political parties, a succinct issue, was briefly mentioned at Perkasa annual general assembly.

The group’s leaders admitted that the issue remains unaddressed and claimed that it seriously affects the government’s efforts in ensuring the Bumiputeras, who make up the bulk of the country’s hardcore poor, receive an equitable slice of the economic pie.

“Malays make noise when they do not get positions and when they don’t get projects. They (Malays) are so easily impressed if they get to ride inside a deputy minister’s car they won’t be able to sleep for three weeks,” Ibrahim said during his closing speech at the groups annual assembly here yesterday.

Similarly, Perkasa vice-president Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman said that corruption was evident in all communities — Malay, Chinese and Indians.

“The Chinese, the Indians they corrupt our leaders. That is because they are smart.

“Now, even the Malay corrupt our leaders,” the Perkasa leader had said.

3. BN survival in GE14 still a toss-up, and Perkasa knows it

Umno is no longer the political animal it used to be in it’s heyday. Ibrahim hit the nail on the head when he predicted that there will be no landslide victory in GE14.

Perkasa has in the past, and at least for now, been a pressure group in support of Umno. They may criticise the Barisan Nasional lynchpin, but it is no secret that many in Perkasa are also active Umno members.

Fearing Perkasa’s hardline stance may force BN to lose middle ground votes, Umno has been subtly and gradually attempting to distance itself from the Malay rights group.

But the refusal of the ruling party’s upper echelon of leaders to publicly denounce Perkasa has shown one thing – Umno can ill-afford to offend the NGO as it could find itself losing the support of the conservatives, who form the bulk of the Malay party’s traditional vote bank.

Recognising their worth, Umno’s conservatives have grown bolder and have repeatedly urged their party leadership to be more decisive when fighting for the Bumiputera agenda.

But others, however, like Khairy Jamaluddin and Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamad, feel the 57-year old party should slowly revitalise itself, and gravitate closer to the centre while still retaining its core roots.

Perkasa’s open attacks on Umno today paints a picture of the BN party struggling to find its footing in modern society – where the younger generation of voters want to move beyond race policies and more on bread-and-butter issues.

Yesterday, Perkasa vice-president Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman said Umno and BN have grown weak, and suggested that the group take over as the country’s next ruling party.

“I would urge Perkasa to fortify efforts to become a political body which will rule this country.

“Once you run this country, no need to complain (to Umno and Barisan Nasional),” he said in his speech.

Whether or not this suggestion will come to fruition in the near future remains uncertain.

But with BN now seen to be at its weakest, and its foes in Pakatan Rakyat still bickering over key ideological differences, a Perkasa political party could very well prove to be a formidable opponent to both the troubled coalitions in the next federal polls.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Monday, 15 December 2014 - 9:32 am

    Some of us may be rooting for Perkasa to run against UMNO but the truth is it will be very tragic for this country.. UMNO/BN will fall and Pakatan will take over but this country may be so deeply wounded in that process that the cost may be too high especially if factions of PAS decide to join them which would actually make them credible but still not succeed.

    THIS is going to be tragically interesting..UMNO-Perkasa is on course to prove whether Lee Kuan Yew is EVEN GREATER LEGEND than he already is. It will remind everyone of LKY’s choice to ride the communist tiger and at pivotal moment turn against it ruthelessly. UMNO will be remembered for wasting DECADES of same opportunities to be similarly legendary instead succumb to its own political narcotic driven agenda. How much damage Perkasa and whoever else joins them cause will only make LKY legend even greater…

  2. #2 by vsp on Monday, 15 December 2014 - 6:18 pm

    Perkasa, Isma and their ilk are mercenaries of UMNO Baru, which has outsourced its dirty machinations to these vociferous ragtag and bobtail in order to keep its hands clean. In fact Perkasa and Isma are the chief consultants of Najib on how to consolidate UMNO Baru’s dwindling support among Malaysians. Najib has the penchant of paying consultants huge sums to do his thinking. Together with JAKIM and other state religious authorities, the clarion call of “Race, Religion and King” to forcibly bring back the country to the “glorious” era of Ketuanan Melayu has been getting louder and strident with each passing day; notwithstanding the framers of modern Malaysia had eschewed a Ketuanan Melayu style of administration for a modern Constitution, catered to a diversified population.

    “Race, Religion and King” is not something new: it had been practiced during the Ketuanan Melayu era with disastrous result to the Malay race. Ketuanan Melayu was a feudalistic system whereby the king was the sole authority on Malay customs and religion, in which he was able to arbitrarily impose his whims and fancies on his hapless subjects. The Malays were the predominant race, and religion was misused by the palaces and its elites (cronies, in modern terms) to ensure that the population conformed to the dictates of the king unquestionably. The population was not encouraged to seek knowledge or aspired to be materially wealthy as the elites, lest the ruling elites would lose their power of control. Religion was also used to rally the Malays to kill fellow Muslim Malays of rival kings. Frequent wars in the Malay peninsular among the Malay contesting powers, based on the “Race, Religion and King” mantra took a terrible toll on the Malay race: the Malay population was decimated so much so that during Independence the Malays were outnumbered by non-Malays. A constitutional artifice had to be invented in order that the term “Malay” had to be defined constitutionally and not based by blood or ethnicity. Technically, a different animal (a white man, for example) could be considered a Malay if he is a Muslim and practiced the Malay custom.

    By sheer greed for power and material wealth, supported by a distorted version of Islam and the call of jihad against adversary Malay kings, the situation became untenable so much so that the Malay elites were forced to seek the support of the British to administer, trade and defend themselves against their adversary Malay kings in exchange for annual stipends. In other words, the Malay elites surrendered and sold their territories. Initially the British came to the Malay peninsular to trade but finding the situation chaotic they found the opportunity to extend their superiority and suzerainty over the Malay states in order to protect their interests against other European encroachers. However, there was a fortunate twist in fate, or a blessing in disguise if you wish: the British, being the predominant power of the time, was able to preserve the integrity of the Malay peninsular and to prevent it from being carved up further by other European powers or by localized powers such as Indonesia or Thailand.

    The “Race, Religion and King” mantra was an unmitigated disaster for the Malay race during the Ketuanan Melayu era. Only the Malays themselves can prevent a corrupt UMNO Baru and its religious cohorts of Perkasa, Isma and supported by JAKIM and other state religious authorities from realizing their distorted feudalistic and fascist aim of turning back Malaysia. The Malays had suffered much from the “Race, Religion, and King” orthodoxy of the Ketuanan Melayu. If not by a twist of fate, the Malays would be under the rule of the Indonesians or the Thais instead. With the brake applied on feudalism of the Ketuanan Melayu era with the introduction of a new Constitution which thrust the Malays into the modern era, the Malays had been presented with the opportunity to forge ahead with the acquisition of modern knowledge and new aspirations. However, the Malays were not allowed to independently seek their own destiny. UMNO Baru still sought to control the minds of the Malays by constitutional and administrative means where culturally-wise the Malays were trapped. The Malays were not allowed to cut the ties of feudalism as UMNO Baru introduced a plethora of measures and tongkat Ali to perpetually condemned the Malays to be mediocre, docile and dopey.

    With UMNO Baru’s elevation of the rulers in order to court their cooperation to aid UMNO Baru to stem their diminishing support among Malaysians; the ratcheting up of religious and racial issues; the issuing of MyCards to newly minted constitutional “Malays”, Malaysia is falling into the trap of feudalism and fascism. In a worst case scenario a discredited UMNO Baru might even lose the plot: with their renewed prestige bestowed by UMNO Baru, the rulers might not want to submit to the dictates of a discredited UMNO Baru and would go on their own to amass power and to nurse an ambition for empire building, and to go after their fellow rulers’ throats instead. History might repeat itself. For the Malays themselves, they might be swamped with newly minted constitutional “Malays” whose loyalties are to their own homelands. A time might come when the Malays would not be fighting against non-Malays but against the constitutional “Malays” and Muslims.

    It is imperative that the Malays themselves save Malaysia from the machination of UMNO Baru and its cohorts: the religious bigots and supremacists aided by the lunatic fringes from Perkasa and Isma.

  3. #3 by boh-liao on Monday, 15 December 2014 - 6:49 pm

    Calling UmnoB “BANGSAT” IS ok 1, NOT seditious
    Is BANGSAT better than CELAKA?

  4. #4 by boh-liao on Monday, 15 December 2014 - 6:50 pm

    Calling UmnoB “BANG SAT” IS ok 1, NOT seditious
    Is BANG SAT better than C E L A K A?

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