Friday, March 26, 2010
All eyes on warrior Dr M and firebrand Ibrahim
Moderation, tolerance but emphasis on Malay rights and the need to help Malays in economic development are the line that former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is expected to take when he officiates at Perkasa’s inaugural assembly tomorrow.
Going by the present country’s socio-political scenario, Mahathir is expected to also speak on the need for Malays to stand united to thwart any attempts to split them.
His speeches are always kept under wraps, but going by his writings in his blog, he would not deviate from his wish to see Malays advance on par with the other races in the country.
The Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sarafuddin Idris Shah had at first agreed to officiate at the assembly but withdrew last week, saying his attendance would be misinterpreted by certain quarters.
Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali then approached Mahathir who agreed to open the meeting of this Malay non-governmental organisation.
Tomorrow will be a historic day as it will be the beginning of a new era in non-partisan politics -- it will set in motion forces that will have an impact on the nation’s socio-political equation.
Some quarters regard Perkasa as a right-wing organisation and may see the presence of Mahathir as lending support to its extreme views, especially since he himself was labelled a Malay ultra when he was climbing up the political ladder.
However, he turned out to be a leader of all Malaysians for 22 years when he became the prime minister, distributing the country’s wealth equally regardless of the privileged position of the Malays under the New Economic Policy (NEP)
Mahathir, though out of politics since 2002, is still being sought after for his sharp and outspoken comments on many issues. Some people said his incisive and at times crude criticism of the government under then Abdullah Ahmad Badawi played a part in the dismal performance of the Barisan Nasional in the 2008 general election.
Over the years, Mahathir has seen the Malay voice reduced to a mere whisper, with Umno, the backbone of the coalition, taking a moderate stand in formulating policies. It faced many challenges, especially from opposition parties which were making demands for equality and calling for the abolishment of the NEP.
Seven of the nine by-elections held after the 2008 general election saw voters backing the opposition as issues raised were racial in nature. Many observers saw Umno's influence slowly declining among the non-Malay voters as well as the Malays themselves.
Still a keen observer, Mahathir wrote many perceptive pieces about Umno's fading strength in his blog and also when commenting on it at several media events.
Against this gloomy background, came Ibrahim, an independent MP for Pasir Mas. Fearing that the Malays would lose out in the mainstream of the country’s economic development and their political supremacy reduced, he formed Perkasa. Its aim is to uphold Malay rights as stipulated under Article 153 of the Federal Constitution and the institution of the rulers.
When the curtain rises tomorrow, Perkasa will be a full-fledged Malay NGO and Mahathir is expected to remind its members to be moderate and tolerant in their stand.