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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Buttmen: We're not Umno stooges



The Malay Army Veterans Association (PVTM) - which had sparked public outrage over their butt exercise session in front of Bersih co-chairperson S Ambiga's house - has vehemently denied that it is a front for Umno.

"We are not politicised (used) by the government. I advise all BN or opposition supporters to stop saying that we are being politicised (used), because we are not," its president Mohd Ali Baharom said in an interview.

"We were not ordered by anyone. Please stop alleging that Umno or BN (did so), because we were not ordered by anyone."

NONEMet at his house in Puchong where two Umno flags wave outside, the former Royal Malay Regiment (RAMD) private also denied that he is an Umno member.

"I am just a government supporter who cares about the good name and dignity of the country."

He was responding to brickbats from opposition personalties, among others, who have alleged that the NGO is just a front for Umno, and is outsourced to commit banalities at which the party itself turns up its nose.

Mohd Ali, who related that he gained the moniker ‘Ali Tinju' or ‘Boxer Ali' for his boxing exploits in the RAMD, also hit out at the media, including Malaysiakini, for "distorting the facts" about the exercise session on May 15.

"Malaysiakini was with us that day. When we clapped our hands, they (the journalists) did not snap our photo, (but) when we bent over, they took a photo and call it a butt exercise.

"Siapa makan cili, dia terasa pedas (If you do something wrong, you will feel guilty)," he said, accusing the media of only being interested in sensationalising the issue.

NONE"Who doesn't bend down during exercise, you tell me?" he asked, insisting that the group's postulations were part of normal calisthenics routine.

Mohd Ali also denied that he had threatened Ambiga during their meeting.

"She said I threatened her. Actually I never threatened her. The words you use ‘to threaten someone' are different (from what I said)...
"To threaten someone, you say ‘I shall hit you, I shall kill you'. I only warned her, it was not a threat. Go look in the law dictionary...

"I don't know where she was taught, but as a veteran we are not only trained to use force, but also to use non-violent means."

'Exercise is race-blind'

Mohd Ali said that Ambiga's house was chosen as she is the most prominent Bersih figurehead, and he denied allegations that she was targeted because of her gender and race.

"We do not discriminate based on race, Islam, be it Malay, Chinese... no. Exercise is race-blind.

"Coincidentally, she holds the ‘first ticket' (most prominent). The first ticket means the most valuable ticket. Though when the veterans come, she may not think it is so any more."

Asked why they had not informed the media about the session, he said that army veterans move in secrecy.

"Veteran's gerak gempur (combat movements) are secret, no one knows. They only hear when it explodes," he quipped.

As to why only 15 of some "40,000 PVTM members" were there, he said that this was only recreational exercise and did not need to involve thousands of people.

NONEBut whatever the case, he repeated his claim that the influence of the veterans had "forced Ambiga (left) to her knees".

"When I saw her, it seemed that she respected me... She understood (why the veterans are there)... That is why automatically she felt pressure, guilt and said there would be no Bersih 4.0, despite PAS' urging."

Ambiga's decison to akur (bow) to them, he said, should be praised and respected.

Mohd Ali also urged the anti-Bersih traders who have threatened to hold an illegal night market in front of her house in protest, to leave her alone.

However, he sympathised with the traders' problems and their demand for compensation for alleged income loss during the Bersih 3.0 rally.

Mohd Ali also warned that his organisation will come back to haunt Ambiga should she decide to call another rally.

"If she engkar (remains defiant), we will meet again."

Karpal next?
 

Mohd Ali also said the group has cancelled its plan to perform an exercise routine in front of Umno Youth head Khairy Jamaluddin's house as he had apologised after criticising their protest.

"We forgive him. Or else we would gempur (protest at) his house too."

However, they have turned their sights on another house, that of DAP national chairperson and senior lawyer Karpal Singh, for reiterating that a non-Malay can become the prime minister, based on the constitution.

"We are angry, disappointed and slighted by his statement that a non-Malay can be PM. I want to warn him that, as a lawyer, he should respect the Malay rulers ...

"Tutup mulut, jangan sedap bercakap, nanti binasa diri. (Shut your trap, don't talk too much, or else you may endanger yourself)."

NONEMohd Ali also clarified that he had never said 100 Plusis haram (prohibited) for Muslims.

He claimed to have only said that he, as a Malay-Muslim, does not consume the isotonic drink that Ambiga had offered after the butt exercise session.

"Anyway, we refused the drink cause we were not tired at all, since the 'exercise' was only for a few minutes."

When the topic of the perceptions of friends and family was brought up, the former boxer explained that the group has their full support for having conducted the exercise session.

"They know what we do, they understand and they thank me as president for coming forward myself."

Mohd Ali also dismissed what he described as attempts to dig into the past to tarnish his image, referring to stories about the datukship award that he had once bought but has since stopped using.

"It is an old matter. I've already publicly apologised... But even if I bought it, it was one million (ringgit) of my own money. I never asked for money from (the detractors') parents. My money, my right."

He also lamented that despite its allure, using the ‘datuk' title is more trouble than is worth, as he became the target of donation seekers and conmen, causing him more "headaches".


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