Thursday, September 23, 2010

Not wrong for Umno to U-turn on Perkasa

An MCA leader has spoken out in support of Umno in its apparent love-hate relationship with Perkasa, acknowledging that the Malay anchor of the Barisan Nasional coalition could ill-afford to entirely shun the controversial Malay rights group.

Labis MP Chua Tee Yong explained that as Perkasa was using Malay rights as its platform, Umno would be wrong to totally disregard them.

Chua, who sits in MCA’s presidential council where his father, Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, is president, also slammed the media for continuing its publicity campaign for Perkasa.

“We have been talking too much about Perkasa. We have been giving them too much prominence. The media should stop this... there are so many other stories and exposes you can write on, so why do you keep harping on this?” he told The Malaysian Insider when contacted earlier this week.

He said that with the amount of publicity Perkasa was receiving, it almost looked as if the non-governmental organisation was like a huge party or a “third-force” in the political make-up of the country.

“All said and done, with all the big hoo-ha, Perkasa is just an NGO,” he said.

Chua acknowledged that Perkasa’s prominence in the political landscape could not be avoided, but urged the public to remember that the group was not a political party.

“Yes, some ministers have even challenged them to register as a party so that they can contest, but still, they are an NGO,” he said.

He noted that although the MCA and many other BN leaders disagreed with Perkasa’s method of pushing its agenda through, it would be wrong to deny the group its right to be heard.

“We may not agree with them, but if you look at it in the aspect that as a democratic country, they are entitled to their views,” he said.

Chua said that Umno had already expressed their views and their objectives, under the leadership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, and should not be punished because of its alleged affiliation with Perkasa.

“Umno has expressed their stand. On MCA’s side, we are also clear that we do not like what Perkasa is doing. But... they are entitled to their views.

“It is difficult for Umno because, being a Malay party, they tend to get related to the Malay NGO, so it is wrong for them to totally disregard them,” he said.

When it was pointed out that although Perkasa was not a political entity, it still played a significant role in politics and its support base could likely sway of the public’s vote in the general election, Chua brushed off the notion.

“That is your view... that Perkasa has a large support base. We do not know that for sure, do we? But they are not a party and they do not go for votes so it is not fair to say that.

“What about the WWF (World Wildlife Foundation)... they too are an NGO. Should we say, then, that they have the support of all the people? We cannot assume.

“I maintain that we are giving Perkasa too much prominence... if they are a political party, for arguments’ sake, then maybe you have some bearing to say this,” he said.

Chua refused to elaborate on the matter, specifically when asked for his view on the apparent flip-flop in Umno’s stand in snubbing Perkasa.

“I think I am not really keen to comment further. It is not beneficial,” he said.

He added that although Perkasa’s views were oftentimes deemed as “extremist” in nature, the group thought the same of MCA’s struggles.

“They also view MCA as extremist. My point is that you are entitled to your point of view. I can read a paragraph and it can be interpreted in so many ways,” he said.

He pointed out that it was pointless to continue bickering over Perkasa for it did not benefit the people or the country.

“What for? We go on and do the things that we set out to do,” he said.

The Perkasa-Umno stand-off started recently when Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku noted that the party should distance itself from the group as any association with it would cause BN to lose votes in the next general election.

Several Umno leaders later joined in the anti-Perkasa chorus and agreed that it was time to openly renounce links with Perkasa. MCA leaders had then quickly jumped in to laud their colleague’s decision.

In an apparent about-turn, however, Najib last week said that Umno was not in conflict with any NGO.

Following the party president’s statement, Tengku Adnan immediately denied that he had ever asked party leaders to sever ties with Perkasa.


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