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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ibrahim Ali Speaks to Malaysian Digest on Perkasa

By Malaysian Digest

Dato' Ibrahim Ali is an independent Member of the Parliament (MP) for the Pasir Mas and the founder and president of Bumiputra rights NGO Perkasa. He founded the NGO after the 2008 general election as he believes that the real democracy in Malaysia is that the majority (Bumiputra) should drive the national agenda. He strongly opposes the abolishing of 30 percent quota for Bumiputra in government projects allocation. He also claims that Chinese are controlling the economy and was also quoted for saying certain groups of Chinese should not to be too greedy, while Malays are still lagging behind in certain economic areas. He is also known for saying "Don't talk shit!" three times during an interview with Al Jazeera (though his words were censored when the news came on-air).

Malaysian Digest caught up with Ibrahim recently to find out more about the Perkasa movement.


Malaysian Digest: Why was Perkasa formed?

Ibrahim Ali: Perkasa was formed in order to counter certain quarters who started to question Malay and Bumiputra rights particularly Article 152 and 153 in the Federal Constitution.

MD: Having said that, can you be specific on who exactly are responsible for questioning these rights and Article 152 and 153 of the Federal Constitution?

IA: Well briefly I can say that it came from the opposition parties, certain bloggers, writers, the Chinese newspapers and certain non-Malay members of parliament from the opposition parties.

MD: We ran a story on Article 152 and 153 earlier this year. We asked Lembah Pantai MP, Nurul Izzah Anwar on Pakatan Rakyat’s stand on both articles. According to her, during Pakatan’s last congress, all of their leaders unanimously agreed that, if ever they are in power, they will not touch the Federal Constitution. What is your opinion on her statement?

..IA: I think that is purely a political statement. They said they will not touch the Federal Constitution but even now they are questioning it. They keep on harping on this issue by saying all kinds of argument. For example, when the Prime Minister was about to launch the New Economic Model (NEM), a lot of people are talking about the so-called meritocracy. There are a lot of suggestions to get rid of affirmative actions. They say that our economic approach should be more on the brutal policy.

We Perkasa think that this is not the right thing to do. As far as we are concerned, taking 152 and 153 into account as the Bumiputra privilege and at the same time we know the Bumiputra’s stake in our economy is still far behind. We believe that affirmative actions must continue. This is part of the reasons why Perkasa was formed.

MD: Datuk Idris Jala reassured that affirmative actions will still be implemented in the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

..IA: Well, they reassured that affirmative actions will be in the ETP but before that, if I’m not mistaken, nothing was mentioned until Perkasa organized the Bumiputra Economic Congress by the Malay Consultative Council which was represented by 126 Malay and Bumiputra NGOs with Perkasa as the main organization behind it. We came out with our proposal which we submitted to the Prime Minister who attended the closing ceremony on the 29 May, 2010. It includes our proposal on the affirmative actions and what should be done by the Government to help the Bumiputra. But some quarters are totally ignorant because we are talking about the Bumiputra stake, the sharing of the Malaysian economic cake.

In the NEM the Government proposed to increase the income of those receiving below RM1,500 monthly in which 40 percent of them are Bumiputras. This to me is all bread and butter. We are talking about the Bumiputra’s economic stake, about sharing the economic cake, the target of 30 percent which is the objective of the NEM. This is what we are talking about.

MD: Last week former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad issued a statement that the Malays will lose their power and privilege if the country is run by Pakatan Rakyat.

IA: You know, Tun Mahathir is a statesman. He is well read and very experienced. He was the Prime Minister for almost 21 years and this year he is 84 years old. He was there when our country was fighting for its independence. Being a statesman who is extremely knowledgeable, he must have a reason for saying that. We must accept the statement for he must be talking from his vast experiences.

MD: Now how would you describe Perkasa’s relationship with Umno now?

IA: Perkasa is an NGO, so when we formed Perkasa we organized the Economic Congress; we prepared a Memorandum of Education which we had submitted to the Government. We met with the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and a few other ministers. Coincidently, they are all Umno leaders. But we met them as Government leaders and not in their capacity as Umno leaders. So far Perkasa has never met Umno officially compared to MCA meeting with Dong Ziong and other Chinese or non-Malay NGOs. We have nothing to do with Umno officially but when we met with those Government leaders we were labeled by the opposition as a tool of Umno which is totally not true.

So when the opposition was harping on us, condemning us as a tool of Umno, the component parties of BN like MCA, Gerakan and MIC felt very uncomfortable as if we are the right wing, racist organization supported by Umno. That’s why certain Umno leaders came with a statement that they have nothing to do with Perkasa. We are totally independent; we are not a tool for any political party.

MD: So you are trying to say when MCA and MIC talked to a Chinese or non-Malay NGOs it’s okay but it is not ok if a Bumiputra NGO to talk to the Government regarding Malay and Bumiputra rights issue.

IA: Yes, you are correct. We never condemned them when MCA was talking to Dong Ziong or even when, in 1999, Su Qiu gathered about 2,000 plus non-Bumi organizations to put almost 87 proposals pressuring the Government. We never said anything but of course sometime we did counter their statements and their resolutions. I don’t see what is wrong when we talked to the Government about the Malay and Bumiputra rights issue. All the more it is already stated in the Federal Constitution.

MD: What is Perkasa's stand on the 1Malaysia policy?

IA: We support the 1Malaysia policy but this is where the confusion comes in because the opposition party wrongly interprets the 1Malaysia concept by stating as if the 1Malaysia concept overwrites the Federal Constitution. They said everybody must have the same rights, saying all the other religion will be at par with Islam, whereas the Prime Minister keeps saying that the 1Malaysia concept is an instrument to bring about unity in the country for the sake of its progress. The PM stated many times that not even an inch of the Federal Constitution will be touched.

We Perkasa are very clear about the 1Malaysia but certain parties and bloggers now has come out to twist it as if it is the same with what the DAP is fighting for which is the 'Malaysian Malaysia' concept.

MD: So the general perception is wrong. Perkasa is for the 1Malaysia concept?

IA: We are for the 1Malaysia concept based on the understanding that the Federal Constitution will never be touched as stated by the Prime Minister.

MD: What do you think of the Umno Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin’s constant criticism of you and Perkasa?

IA: I think it is purely jealousy. We never intend to compete with Umno Youth. Historically, Umno Youth is a wing of Umno, the biggest political party for the past 53 years. I was an Umno Youth exco member for six years. Umno Youth used to be vocal in fighting for the Malay and Bumiputra rights. It so happens that the Umno Youth leader today is totally different from the youth leaders before and recently a lot of issues concerning the Malay and Bumiputra rights was raised and questioned by certain quarters.

We Perkasa took on the issue so people begin to compare us with Umno Youth. People are saying that Umno Youth is useless now and Perkasa is more vocal on fighting for the Malay and Bumiputra rights. I can’t stop people from talking. As a result he became jealous and insecure. He just cannot take it. He starts blaming Perkasa.

Umno Youth is Umno Youth. I’m not bothered about Umno Youth or its current leader. So if he believes in the freedom of speech and as a graduate from Oxford who propagates the idea of an open minded generation, why is he worried about Perkasa?

MD: Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz last week came with a statement claiming he is ‘Malaysian first, Malay next’.

IA: Well that is his opinion. If he feels that way so let him be. As far as I’m concerned I’m a Malaysian citizen who put my loyalty to the King as a symbol of the country, loyalty to the Federal Constitution and I’m Malay. I’m very clear about that.

To be continued...

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