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Friday, April 29, 2011

Anwar: Umno stoking ‘culture of fear’ to win over Malays

Anwar said the Chinese were being intentionally made into a straw man. — Picture by Choo Choy May
KUALA LUMPUR, April 29 — Utusan Malaysia’s fervent push for a “1 Melayu, 1 Bumi” movement is a telling sign that Umno is willing to pit the Malays against the Chinese just to secure the dominant community’s votes in rural areas, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has said.

Anwar accused Umno of creating a “culture of fear” by falsely painting the Chinese as eager to take over political control from the country’s Malay leadership, in order for them to secure maximum Malay votes before the upcoming general election.

He also accused Datuk Seri Najib Razak of endorsing and having approved of Umno’s increasingly ultra-Malay stance, even as the prime minister dismissed the “1 Melayu, 1 Bumi” movement as the personal opinion of an Utusan editor.

“Umno is using a culture of fear in creating this illusion of an enemy in the form of the Chinese... so that the Malays have to hang on to Umno. If this happens, I see the Malays as being hanged by Umno,” Anwar told The Malaysian Insider in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.

He said Umno through Utusan had misrepresented an “assertive” Chinese community as being political opportunists, and that this aggressive position was due to the Malay party’s eroding support base as well as failure to address national issues.

Najib can influence Utusan’s editorial direction, said Anwar. — file pic
“Umno always has to create an enemy, either foreign or within the country... this shows the hypocrisy of Najib and his administration in trying to portray a liberal, moderate voice,” Anwar said.

“I have never accepted the assumption that Utusan or Umno is really serious or genuine in their effort to defend Malays; it is a desperate attempt to garner support.

“They have been given half a century to protect Malay interests but they have only protected family members, cronies,” he added.

The PKR de facto leader, once an Umno deputy president, charged that Najib was being a hypocrite for washing his hands off Utusan’s ultra-Malay push.

According to Anwar, Najib as Umno president would have a direct say as to the editorial approach of the Umno-owned daily.

“Utusan is under the direct control of the Umno president... I know this for a fact because the media is co-ordinated indirectly through the PM’s office and the Umno president has direct control

“To suggest that this is Utusan ploy and that he is committed to 1 Malaysia its hypocrisy because throughout history, the Umno president has a say in Utusan’s stories,” said the 63-year old politician.

Utusan Malaysia has been attacking the DAP since the April 16 Sarawak election, accusing the party of using racial sentiments to secure the Chinese community’s backing.

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) swept to victory in nearly all Chinese-majority seats, increasing its representation in the state assembly from seven to 15.

The Malay daily has urged Umno to spearhead a “1 Melayu, 1 Bumi” movement to protect Malay unity.

It claimed that DAP was intent on unseating the country’s Malay political leadership.

Malay rights group Perkasa said it will fly the banner for the movement and launch a 1 Bumiputera campaign this weekend.

Perkasa says it will front the “1 Melayu” movement. — file pic
Analysts have said the Umno paper’s increasingly strident, pro-Malay tone is a sign the ruling Barisan Nasional’s (BN) senior party has written off support from the Chinese community and is banking on Malay votes to win in the coming 13th general election.

On Wednesday, Anwar said there was no harm in a Malay movement aimed at improving economic conditions for the community, but cautioned that such a movement must look at helping the majority of Malay Bumiputeras who are poor and be “needs-based.”

“There is nothing wrong with wanting to help your own race, community... affirmative action to help vast majority of Malay Bumiputeras who are poor and marginalised, I am all for that.

“We must recognise the fact that the vast majority of Malaysians who are poor are Malays and Bumiputeras. And we cannot ignore this, much more needs to be done... but at the same time we must be very pronounced in our policies to push for affirmative action programmes based on needs,” said the PR leader.

According to Anwar, Umno and the ruling coalition could not be trusted to lead any movement to help marginalised Malays as they were mired in corruption.

He cited Putrajaya’s questionable financial management which resulted in a staggering RM52 billion loss last year through its special Bumiputera equity scheme.

“The question is we did allocate 52 billion... what happened to the money? And is giving land to crony company solution to Malay problem? That’s where we differ.

“But if it means additional training, micro credit, massive forms of assistance to encourage new Malay Bumi entrepreneurship, I’m all for that ... we need to make sure it’s all trickling down,” said Anwar.

He also said that legitimate demands or requests of financial assistance from the Chinese, Indian, as well as other communities must be “fairly considered” as well.

“At the end of the day, it’s about needs... the poor who need help should get help,” Anwar told The Malaysian Insider.

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