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Umno’s Perkasa dilemma

Before: Perkasa is not a threat

“At the end of the day, it’s the government that decides on everything. I don’t think Perkasa will win if it contested in the general election… it has even used the PAS ticket to win.”

Perkasa logo

Perkasa logo

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz uses sarcasm to dismiss Perkasa which is led by independent Member of Parliament (MP) Datuk Ibrahim Ali who won in Pasir Mas on a PAS ticket. Ibrahim has also frequently changed political parties in the past. (Source: Perkasa not a threat, say Umno leaders, Free Malaysia Today, 5 April 2010)

“I never saw Perkasa as a threat at all because Umno has been in existence since 1946 and has struggled for the Malay community. Every community has benefited directly or indirectly from Umno’s leaders who are also the nation’s leaders. So I do not see Perkasa 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.”

Ahmad Maslan (source:

Datuk Ahmad Maslan, Umno information chief and Pontian MP, when asked for his comments on Perkasa earlier this year. Other Umno leaders like supreme council member Datuk Bung Mukhtar Radin, party deputy permanent chairperson Datuk Seri Mohamad Aziz, and Umno Youth deputy chief Datuk Razali Ibrahim, also said they did not believe Perkasa was a threat to Malay Malaysian support for Umno. (Source: Perkasa not a threat, say Umno leaders, Free Malaysia Today, 5 April 2010)

“Perkasa is not so extreme, if you listen to them carefully. They can shout about Malay rights as long as they are not extreme in their views, and you know, to the extent that we can accommodate Perkasa. And we can [also accommodate] the non-Malays […]”

“They are by and large supportive of Umno and they believe that Umno is the only vehicle that can really not only promote Malay interest but really hold this country together.”

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, in an interview with satellite channel Al Jazeera aired before both the Hulu Selangor and Sibu by-elections. He was explaining the New Economic Model and how the government deals with groups like Perkasa. (Source: Perkasa not so extreme, Al Jazeera interview as reported by Malaysiakini, 3 April 2010)

Now: Some Umno leaders try to distance the party from Perkasa

“The Umno members in Perkasa are rejects from our party and the leaders at all levels of Umno are with the Prime Minister and his 1Malaysia concept; that is why we will never subscribe to Perkasa’s way of fighting for the rights of the Malays.”

Nazri dismissing Perkasa again, but this time adding that the group’s way of championing Malay Malaysian rights will lead to racial discord and perhaps even riots. Just before this, Ibrahim had said that Perkasa was strong enough on its own and did not need Umno’s support. (Source: BN leaders band together in stand over Perkasa, The Star, 10 Sept 2010)

“The struggles of Umno are more holistic than Perkasa’s. Umno fights for the Malays and Malaysians, which Umno had been fighting for since 1946.”

Umno information chief Ahmad, saying Perkasa’s fight was only for the rights of one single race while Umno’s agenda was bigger and wider in scope. (Source: BN leaders band together in stand over Perkasa, The Star, 10 Sept 2010)

“They are not wanted in Umno, they are no more leaders, they are just ordinary members. Umno has nothing to do with Perkasa.

“Why should Umno support him (Ibrahim Ali)? Umno should put a candidate in Pasir Mas. We will contest in Pasir Mas.”

Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor (source:

Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, saying Perkasa was eroding Barisan Nasional’s (BN) support among non-Malay Malaysians. He said the party would not back Ibrahim in the next general election. Tengku Adnan also said most Perkasa leaders consisted of those who were defeated in the last Umno elections who were now seeking a political platform to be heard.

Tengku Adnan reminded Perkasa leaders that BN had to address the needs of all racial groups in the country. In response, Ibrahim snapped back, saying that 60% of Perkasa members were Umno members. He is also mulling the possibility of political cooperation with other parties in the next election.(Source: Umno rejects Perkasa, The Star, 9 Sept 2010)

” … In Umno, we defend Malay rights but we believe there is a place for all Malaysians.

We want all groups to understand this part.”

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin calling Perkasa’s views one-sided as it did not take into account other communities. (Source: Umno leaders reject Perkasa’s ‘narrow struggle’, New Straits Times, 11 Sept 2010)

“We should reject ethnocentricity in this country, it should not be encouraged.”

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi saying Perkasa’s struggle was ethnocentric in nature while Umno also fought for the rights of non-Malays. (Source: Umno leaders reject Perkasa’s ‘narrow struggle’, New Straits Times, 11 Sept 2010)

“They should work just as an NGO and carry out their programmes as one.”

Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar describing Perkasa as nothing more than a non-governmental organisation. (Source: Umno leaders reject Perkasa’s ‘narrow struggle’, New Straits Times, 11 Sept 2010)

“Perkasa is hurting us, our chances in gaining non-Malay votes. For Umno, BN to win, we cannot afford to be associated with these people. They are alienating us from a large segment of voters.”

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, who has been at loggerheads with Ibrahim, saying Umno must disassociate itself from the group. At a Ramadan forum, Khairy also said: “If there is a situation where Umno chooses Perkasa over me, I will leave (the party).” (Source: Khairy wants Umno, BN to move away from Perkasa, The Malaysian Insider, 27 August 2010)

…and here’s how the Umno president and country’s prime minister addresses Perkasa.

“They are not against us. They are talking more about bumiputera rights. But actually we are not taking anything away from the bumiputera, but we are saying that let us do it differently. Let us get better results. Let us achieve a more equitable society. But at the same time, [be] fair to the non-bumiputras as well. Because we want to build a One Malaysia.”

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on CNBC Asia, when asked why former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Perkasa were getting upset with the current leadership. (Source: Transcript of CNBC Asia’s interview with PM Najib, The New Straits Times, 11 Sept 2010)

“…it troubles me to see a rise in issues rooted in extremism in the nation. This is not limited to racism. Extremists are groups or [individuals] who subscribe to radical views and actions against others. They treat anyone who is different as an enemy and engineer fear in people who don’t conform to their thoughts or ideologies and in some cases in people who simply look different.

“I am strongly opposed to these types of behaviour. It saddens me that despite living in an independent multi-cultural nation for over 50 years, there are still those who cannot tolerate, much less accept the benefits of a [diverse] society. It saddens me because by rejecting our [diverse] way of life, they reject 1Malaysia.”

Najib a few days later, in his official address for Malaysia Day posted on his website. He did not name Perkasa but talked about groups which he said may be “small in number” but whose “presence is amplified through their extreme sentiments and acts.” He said Malaysians should remain calm and rational and that the government would keep a watchful eye on such groups. (Source: Our Fight Against Extremism,, 15 Sept 2010)

But when subsequently pressed by reporters to clarify whether he was referring to Perkasa or not, Najib dodged the question and said he wasn’t talking about any specific group. He added that Umno considered Perkasa to be like any other NGO, and that the government did not want to be in conflict with any NGO. After Najib’s reply to reporters, Tengku Adnan, too, denied ever saying that Umno and BN wanted to distance themselves from Perkasa.

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4 Responses to “Umno’s Perkasa dilemma”

  1. TheOthers says:

    Can anyone help clarify these scenarios:

    When does a person becomes a bumiputera? Recently I saw in the papers a non-Malay [Malaysian] celebrity getting married to Malay CEO of a big company. Does she become bumiputera and is thereafter able to obtain discounts on housing? If she still does not qualify, does it mean her children, too, are non-bumi? Then there was a non-Muslim Datuk from the 1960s who converted to Islam. Is he a bumiputera?

    Can we extrapolate the significance of these social rules and policies affecting non-Malays, non-Muslims, and non-bumiputera? Does being [a Malay Muslim automatically entitle one to] a housing discount? In Malacca, some housing are for “Melayu sahaja” – does this exclude bumiputera? How does one check if someone is “Melayu” and/or “bumiputera”??

  2. TheOthers says:

    Also, if a Malay Singaporean migrates to Malaysia, is he or she a bumiputera and therefore qualified to obtain a housing discount? Does he or she qualify to buy the houses in Malacca?

  3. TheOtherThanMalay says:

    The status “bumiputera’ was made based on an agreement of giving nationality to non-Malays. or immigrant workers such as the Chinese, Indians and others during the independence of Semenanjung Malaysia.

    For Sabah and Sarawak, another type of term applied.

    It was made to protect the bumiputera land or Muslim beliefs from any harm and disturbance.

    Nothing special about that but now it seems somebody manipulates it into a racial issue.

    • neptunian says:

      It was done to protect Muslim beliefs? Sabah and Sarawak NATIVES were predominantly Christians or more correctly pagans until the BN govt got into the act!

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