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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Perkasa and Najib’s Dilemma

By Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, Member, PAS Central Working Committee.

If you were overly anxious of a deepening racial fault-line because of the rhetoric of the Perkasa’s President, the person who got to
be a MP of Pasir Mas on the back of PAS’ hardwork and goodwill, and now calling himself ‘independent’, I would like you to read the good write-up of the MI’s columnist Shazwan Mustafa Kamal below. I must say that such honest and insightful write-up will hopefully keep the media less toxic with an overdose of jaundiced views of one narrow perspective of the stakeholder ie the Umno/BN ruling regime in the media like Utusan, NST, RTM etc.
Consistent with the notion of an Islamist democrat, I must maintain that Perkasa or any organizations for that matter, partisan or otherwise, must be free to advocate and propagate their beliefs and conviction. Whether it is an extreme right or left, center-right or centre-left or however ‘centrist’ it may claim to be in the ideological milieu, (or not even worthy of being an ideology at all as this Perkasa is, perhaps, as opined by Prof Shamsul Ambri), I must stand up to defend their right to say their piece. I shall not insist that they be criminalized for being seditious or dealt with legally by any other draconian laws of the country.
However, much as I support their right to express it, I must also be given the democratic right to oppose it. That truly defines a democratic environment and that truly defines a democrat from a pseudo-one. That’s a reminder to all and the writer is no exception.My contention of Ibrahim Ali’s Perkasa is seriously ideological. The entire struggle is flawed, as it is premised on the basis of struggling for the right of the ‘alienated’ Malays. In a frantic attempt at manipulating sympathy, the Malay race is alleged to be under siege and all-round attack from other races, including the so-called ‘liberal’ Malays, as labeled by the Perkasa’s President.  
The Najib’s administration, now desperately wooing back non-Malays votes, is also alleged to have failed in fighting for the Malay cause. As Najib grapples with the challenges of the competing multi-racial interests and constraints, deviously projected to be mutually exclusive at times, Perkasa is hell-bent to embark on a self-pitying Malay agenda.
Recent dismantling of the NEP-type policies was accused of disadvantaging the Malays and the war lords or chieftains of Umno are extremely enraged. This shall continue to be the central theme of  the struggle of an ethno-supremacist policies of Perkasa. Little did they admit that the NEP has for decades arguably failed to uplift the poor Malays and genuine bumiputera entrepreneurs and was only good at enriching the minute well-connected Umnoputera. Perkasa is on a ‘crusade’ to make the entire nation believe that the Malay race is suffering from alienation and erosion of political power. Perkasa is quite oblivious of stoking the flames of racial tension and polarisation.
Perkasa now insists that the new economic model about to be presented by Najib’s government must continue to defend the ‘Malay agenda’ as it has failed to be achieved in the last 3 decades. They are least concerned as to why it failed and who had actually undermined nay subverted the Malay agenda, amongst others of not achieving the 30% corporate equity. They have not articulated any policy advocacy in term of alleviating the entrapped poor Malays if truly they are concerned about Malay right. All that they could harp on is on Malay corporate equity.
They truly sounded so archaic in their political advocacy and providing little of concrete programmes, much less to articulate a new approach of advancing the Malay race in the face of myriad challenges of competing multi-racial interests and the reality of globalization. Already Malaysia is missing from the radar screens of most foreign investors largely a consequent of politics of patronage and rent-seeking behaviours of greedy Umno cronies. How much worse could Perkasa and like-minded NGOs and NGIs like Nasir Safar, undermine nation-rebuilding agenda and the quest for regainng nation’s competitiveness?
Will Najib and the chieftains of Umno able to identify with such self-pitying Malay right wing NGO group out to heightened racial polarization and antagonism, while still could be sloganeering on 1-Malaysia? Umno is at a critical cross-road in term of deciding a political trajectory of its future strategic position. Will Najib allow the ‘extremists’ element in Umno to hijack and derail the party’s efforts of reengineering their image to be one that is akin to that of ‘PAS for All’ and now ‘Umno for All’.
Najib has come to realize that the greatest enemy of Umno is Umno’s own leaders and members that have failed to carry the vision and mission of their past presidents. Has he what it takes to change his party and will he turn this threat to an opportunity? Or was Perkasa a Najib’s design, anyway? Perhaps, as some have alluded, but a conspiratorial theory too bizarre to be of any strategic value, except to act as a ‘bogey’ for the Malay agenda.
Will Najib submit to this aberration or will he demonstrate to the nation that he has a better spine as compared to his immediate predecessor? Najib is rudely reminded of his last blunder when condoning the demonstration in the mosque in the divisive issue of usage of ‘Allah’. He was severely bashed. He has to exhibit both substance and consistency to his 1-Malaysia rhetoric. He has succeeded in neither thus far, save very little.
The choice is wide open to him. If Najib goes with or in anyway showing leaning to Perkasa, he will live to regret his choice as he will be the last PM of the BN to bring the longest serving government in the world to an end. He could no longer eat the cake and keep it. He has to either eat it or keep it. He has to call a spade a spade. He has to emulate his political nemesis, PAS and that is surely not an easy feat.
If Najib finally succumbs, he does it at his own peril!
Please read the writing of Shazwan in the MI: Analysts, politicians differ on Perkasa’s role


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