Monday, March 22, 2010

KJ: No secret agenda with Perkasa

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin admits that the non-governmental organisation Pribumi Perkasa Negara (Perkasa), could be a rising force among the Malay community, but denied the party has any agenda with the movement led by Independent MP Ibrahim Ali.

In the first of a three-part exclusive interview, the Rembau MP said that while some party members may support Perkasa, Umno does not ascribe to such right-wing views.

khairy jamaluddin kj interview 190310Speaking against the backdrop of a mural of the first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, Khairy (right), who leads a movement of more than 700,000 members, wants Umno and Malays to understand why there is a need to see the community to rise up on their own accord to be high achievers and not rely on assistance.

Admitting that Perkasa's cause was easily identifiable, the Umno Youth chief and father of two said it would continue to engage in dialogues with its members to have them adopt a centrist approach.

Excerpts of the interview follow, with content edited for language and brevity.

Malaysiakini: How do you view Perkasa?

Khairy Jamaluddin: It is used as a vehicle to protect the Malays. Ibrahim (Ali) has been around for a long time but I do not agree with his approach. I think the approach put forward by the Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is more forward looking and is not directed at shackling the Malay mind.

In my inaugural address, at the Umno Youth assembly last year I mentioned it is not Article 153 that makes Malays special. We have to rely on our own abilities to make us special. Yes, Article 153 stipulates the special rights of the Malays but it is not something which we must be proud off.

For example, admission to the local universities: we would like to see 60 percent of Malays being admitted not to fulfil the quota but based on their own ability. That is what I mean; to uplift the Malays.

Furthermore, I do not agree with Perkasa's rhetoric not only in terms of whether it is good for Malays but also because it is offensive to non-Malays. This is at odds with an empathetic society that Malaysia needs.

Certain right-wing Umno members wants the party to be more Malay, to protect the Malay rights. Are they not accepting the views of the PM (with the 1Malaysia views) and what you are saying now?

khairy jamaluddin kj interview 190310I think it is a continuous engagement process. We must constantly engage (Malays) as they have to understand. They may follow Perkasa as a result of their reaction because they do not know and wanted more security. What (the government) is doing is positive and would not affect the Malays. It is directed at challenging the Malays to be achievers.

Maybe the end goals of Umno and Perkasa are the same; to see the Malays become developed or be at par with other races. I think the opposition also wants to see this and would not argue (against) this.

There could be some within Umno joining Perkasa as they view the party is shying away from the Malay rights?

Maybe they felt the liberalisation process is eroding the Malay rights. But that is only their view that is wrong. We have to come out to explain that it (liberalisation) does not erode the special rights of the Malays but builds the community's confidence. There is a need to make Malays understand that they have to strive hard to be successful. They have to build their confidence.

On Perkasa, we cannot stop such groups from existing, as it is their right. Malays may have Perkasa while the Chinese have their Suqui and Dong Jiong, and Indians have their Hindu Rights Action Force. But, what is important is for us to explain to Umno to adopt the 1Malaysia concept.

Does Umno accept this approach?

I think in last week's debate, DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang (below) had said the PM is losing control because of Perkasa. This is not true. Umno Youth is supportive of the 1Malaysia initiative.

NONEHowever, if anyone still adopts an ultra right-wing approach, we have to accept it and face the criticism. I ask them not to criticise without facts. This is emotional blackmail and this is a negative feature in the Malay community (criticising without backing up with facts). Do not be emotional; we must think rationally to solve the Malay dilemma.

Is Perkasa's approach different from that in Umno Youth?

The approach taken by Perkasa is different from that of Umno Youth. This is reflected in my inaugural speech. Maybe there are others who are unhappy with what I said but it is what I hope the members can adopt too.

Does Perkasa differ from Umno or is there similarity?

I do not know whether we can equate Umno with Perkasa. Umno is a political party, while Perkasa is an NGO. Our modus operandi may be different but we share a common cause for the betterment of the Malays. Perkasa is not an alternative force to Umno.

People see Ibrahim building his membership within a short span of time and some feel it has taken over Umno's task (protecting the rights of the Malays)?

I think it is premature to conclude that Perkasa may replace Umno. Umno cannot be replaced as it is a political party and fighting for the rights of the Malays, Islam and Malaysia. We are more total. Perkasa is just an NGO out to protect Malay rights that is alright. However, this is not Umno's message, as our message is more than to perkasakan orang Melayu (to strengthen the Malays)

Does Perkasa complement Umno?

I would not say that, (it sounds) as though we have a secret agenda with Perkasa. It is like comparing Umno to Sinn Fein, while Perkasa is like the Irish Republican Army. Maybe it is not right to say that as Perkasa is not armed. Maybe it's like Umno is a good cop, while Perkasa is a bad cop for Malays. There is no hidden agenda between Umno and Perkasa.

Perkasa is just a vehicle used by Malays and Ibrahim to protect the Malays and that is it.

How about Umno members in Perkasa?

Yes, there could be, but there are also PAS and PKR members within Perkasa. This is also reflected in Ibrahim's statement that Perkasa comprises Umno and PAS members. You cannot derive a conclusion that Perkasa equals Umno.

NONEIf we look at Perkasa's message, its attraction is hard to be rejected by the Malays as Ibrahim (left) said it is an NGO which is non-political but out to defend the Malays, Islam and the royal institution. Who would disagree with that?

However, we must tell our members that Umno's approach is more then that as we do not only want to protect the Malays but at the same time we try and look for ways for the Malays to compete, improve and develop themselves and uplift the community. Our message is completely different.

Is Perkasa a threat to Umno itself?

No I do not think it's a threat to Umno. Perkasa is not Umno's vehicle. Umno has withstood the test of time since 1946. We have defeated the British, the (leftists) like Dr Burhanuddin Al Helmy or Ahmad Boestaman and also the right-wing. We will survive.

Part 2: Khairy gives his views on the GST and the economy

courtesy of Malaysiakini

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