By Syed Akbar Ali
Perkasa is nowhere near ‘Malay supremacy’, ‘Malay dominance’ and the other racist crap that has been played up by the Opposition as well as the MCA. Perkasa is UMNO, more importantly Perkasa is Melayu.
After the 2008 debacle, the Malays are naturally afraid of the possibility that their political power will dwindle. It is a reaction. The fear is that nothing is being done to reverse this possibility. Hence Perkasa. It is not about taking other’s rights but rather preserving one’s own.
Even the ex ABIM President has spoken in favour of Perkasa. How do we explain the fact that there is even a pro UMNO faction now in PAS? PAS realize now that all these years they have actually taken for granted (and they also have been quite comfortable) that there is a Malay Muslim Government in Putrajaya. They merely wanted to replace the UMNO led Malay Muslim Government with their own PAS led Malay Muslim Government.
But with PAS not anywhere being able to form the Government and the existing UMNO led Malay Muslim Government in danger of losing its position, there are now many folks in PAS who don’t mind reaching out to UMNO to preserve the Malay Muslim status quo in Government. Its as simple as that. This is the reason for all the suggestions of unity talks between PAS and UMNO. No rocket science here.
I think folks like the MCA are taking the wrong attitude towards Perkasa. Instead of reassuring Perkasa (read as orang Melayu lah) that Malays will not be eclipsed in this country, the MCA’s confrontational attitude has only fueled even more worry in the psychology that fuels Perkasa. It is not about Malay dominance or Malay supremacy but about self preservation of the Malays. If the MCA cannot see through this, they are dumber than I thought.
Another example of being political silly. I read somewhere - a suggestion to remove Malay Reserve Land. Malay Reserve Land is not an issue. The Chinese and Indians are not complaining that they don’t have enough land in Malaysia. There are millions of acres of land in the country, still occupied by trees and squirrels. Malay Reserve Land was put in correctly by the British to prevent the Malays from being chased into the sea altogether. The Malays had lost so much land to the British and the immigrants. Saying now that Malay Reserve Land must be abolished does not add any value to the Chinese or Indian cause but it will only increase the fears of the Malays that they are being disenfranchised in their own Tanah Melayu. So please stop talking like this. It is wasting time and just aggravating the situation.
The Malays have a real fear of ‘ketuanan bukan Melayu’ or the dominance and supremacy of the non Malays. This is what folks like Ibrahim Ali fear. This fear is very legitimate. Singapore has been lost and the Malays in Penang are perhaps worse off than the Malays in Singapore.
In the next elections, the Indian vote is of little consequence. Post 2008, only 10% or 20% of Chinese votes are expected to accrue to the BN, no matter how much money Najib is giving to the Chinese schools. Therefore the Chinese vote has to be fully discounted. To survive, UMNO (and the BN) have no choice but to fall back on the Malay vote alone. One naughty theory is that Najib giving all that money to the Chinese schools is meant to aggravate the Malays and provoke them to close ranks. Maybe he is doing it unwittingly. I think it is working. Never pick a fight with the Vietnamese. Never play politics with the Malays.
So the maths is very simple, since the Chinese vote is almost completely pro Opposition, the Pakatan will do best if the Malay vote is split. UMNO and the BN will do best if the Malay vote unites to their side. The suggestion “Melayu Undi Melayu” is now going the rounds too. Meaning, if it is not a Malay BN candidate, Malays should still vote for any Malay candidate, no matter what party they represent. They will not vote for non Malays.
If this sentiment picks up steam, there will be an impact on the MCA MPs, especially those from Johor who depend on the Malay vote to win. They are going to be routed. They are not going to get the Malay vote. The next election will likely see the political demise of the MCA and possibly the Gerakan too. If they pull out of the BN, it will hasten their demise even quicker. Hence also the suspicion that the DAP (maybe more savvy) will be fielding more Malay candidates in the next elections.
Will Perkasa field its own candidates in the next elections? They have collected 326,000 membership forms already. By one estimate Perkasa has sufficient clout to field candidates in at least 20 Parliamentary constituencies. This is not an impossible scenario. UMNO boleh ‘terduduk’. It is more likely however that Perkasa will play the role of a ‘voting lobby’ or ‘voting bloc’ pressure group. Like in the US, where the unions and lobby groups endorse certain candidates, Perkasa too may ask its members to support or not support certain candidates.
Nazri Aziz, Khairy Jamaluddin and Tengku Adnan are just some of the people who may not be getting any endorsement from Perkasa. I think we will not (or should not) be seeing anymore of these guys at the next elections and thereafter. Nazri and Khairy may even find friends ready to welcome them on the other side.
So Perkasa is going to have an impact on the Malay vote. This is a certainty. And then what? It will give them clout to “negotiate”.
Notwithstanding Perkasa, UMNO faces serious credibility issues if it fields some Ministers who have lost the support of not just many UMNO members but of Malaysians in general. Talk is a Cabinet reshuffle is “imminent” again in November. But this is only talk. Najib cannot be seriously thinking of going into the next general election with the present set of Cabinet Ministers in his team.
The unpopularity of Ministers like Nazri Aziz, Nor Mohd Yakcop, Zahid Hamidi, Noh Omar, Khaled Noordin, Hishamuddin Hussein and Shahrizat Abdul Jalil is increasing. The UMNO Youth Chief is detested by not just the rank and file but also by the leadership of Pemuda UMNO. I met with some of them not too long ago. It will be quite suicidal for Najib to field these folks in the next elections. On a national level, these names will be serious liabilities. It will become worse if Perkasa does NOT endorse them or speaks against them.
There is also another huge fish lurking just under the surface that can cause serious difficulty for Najib. This is Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad. The UMNO leaders should not be so “pelupa” to forget that Kedah was lost because of the disrespect shown to Dr Mahathir by the corrupt Slumberjack and his SIL plus also Mahdzir Khaled the Menteri Besar of Kedah at that time. One “bejana” of wisdom has gone so far to say that the next General Elections will be determined by whether Dr Mahathir campaigns for BN or not. If Dr Mahathir does not “turun padang” that may be sufficient to lose votes that may otherwise accrue to the BN. Dr Mahathir will never campaign against the BN but what if he goes off on holiday to the Mediterranean or horse riding in Argentina?
I can make a safe assumption that if Najib goes to the polls with the existing team, he will certainly not get the support of the UMNO Bloggers. Please do not discount the Bloggers. Don’t make the same mistake twice. Who do you think created names like Down’s Syndrome, Si Kitol, Menteri Amaran Keras and so on? These are now designer brands.
There are no two ways about this. If Najib wants to save the party (and his behind) and save the country as well, just drop these folks. That will be a start. And matchmakers may not get calls either.