Perkasa complements Umno, say MPs – By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani

Ibrahim (right) kisses a kris at Perkasa’s inaugural congress which was opened by Dr Mahathir on March 27, 2010. — File pic

The Malaysian Insider | KUALA LUMPUR, 05-Apr-2010 — Umno lawmakers said today Perkasa complements the ruling Malay political party and should not be seen as a threat.

A recent survey by independent pollster Merdeka Center showed that right-wing group has gained popularity in the Malay community, with nearly 70 per cent of Malay voters in Peninsular Malaysia agreeing with Perkasa’s demands that the government should not dismantle quotas and economic protection for the Malays.

The survey also suggested that Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak would face substantial obstacles in pushing through his reforms.

Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin believes Perkasa and Umno can work together.

“I think it is the awakening of the community to express themselves. This is because they may feel that there are outside groups that are pressuring the royal institution and Islam. So this is not pressure to other races but to protect the rights of Malays.

“Perkasa is not a party but an NGO. It is not a threat. Umno and Perkasa can work together,” he told reporters in Parliament.

Sri Gading MP Datuk Mohamad Aziz said Perkasa complements Umno.

“Those who support Umno will continue to support Umno but those who support Perkasa because they want to defend their race. Even though Umno defends the community, it does not forego its responsibility to Malaysian society and the interests of other communities.

“Perkasa is specifically for Malay interests, special rights of the Malays, Malay Sultans, Bahasa Melayu and these policies are supported by the community. They will not become a threat to Umno. Malays who support Perkasa will not leave Umno,” he said.

Pontian MP Datuk Ahmad Maslan stressed that Perkasa should not be labelled as a threat to Umno.

“I never assume Perkasa as a threat at all because Umno has been here since 1946. Perkasa is only a ‘few days’ so Umno’s contribution has been rooted in society.

“Therefore every community has benefited directly or indirectly from Umno’s leaders who are also the nation’s leaders. So I do not see them as a threat but what is the threat? I have always been fighting for the country, race and religion. There is no threat at all,” said the Umno information chief.

Perkasa is positioning itself as a pressure group to the government especially on the continuation of preferential treatment for the Malays under the Najib administration’s NEM.

Perkasa’s inaugural congress last Sunday was launched by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who once made its leader Datuk Ibrahim Ali a deputy minister of law in his 22-year administration.

The Malay right-wing group has spread to all states since the independent MP founded it two years ago. It counts many Umno stalwarts among its pro-tem committee officials and has protested the Najib administration’s move to open up the economy and reform affirmative action policies.

Perkasa has warned political parties, especially Umno, not to be “enemies” with the movement if it wants support in the next general election.

However, Padang Rengas MP Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz dismissed Perkasa’s importance and took a jab at Ibrahim.

“It is not a political body, it is something which entertains matters affecting the Malays. But at the end of the day, the government will decide everything. I don’t think Perkasa will win if they contest in the general election. They (Ibrahim Ali) even used the PAS ticket to win,” he said.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department has slammed Perkasa as a political opportunist after the group claimed that the proposed Equal Opportunity Commission is against the country’s constitution.