Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Perkasa playing with religious fire

Analysts shred Perkasa’s warning of Christian tsunami

BY JENNIFER GOMEZ
DECEMBER 11, 2013
A Christian tsunami at the next general election? Not likely, say political analysts, who pooh-poohed Malay rights group Perkasa for turning the country’s religious minority into a bogeyman.
Analysts said if the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) Government was sensitive to the needs of Christians, it need not worry about any threat to the survival of Malays and Islam in the country.
A bigger concern was the impact of the “Allah” ruling, said political analyst Khoo Kay Peng, adding that it touched on Christian sensitivities, especially since there was worldwide condemnation over the ruling.
"Christianity is practised by only 9% of the Malaysian population. The only electoral threat could come from Sabah and Sarawak. If the BN-led government is sensitive to the needs of Christians, there should not be any threat," he said.
Last Saturday, Perkasa's Datuk Zulkifli Noordin (pic) highlighted seven threats to the survival of Malay-Islam in Malaysia and warned that the 14th General Election may turn out to be a "Christian tsunami" if the threats were ignored.
He had also listed Pakatan Rakyat, Singapore, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and liberal Malays as threats.
According to Zulkifli, the Catholic church’s move to drag the “Allah” issue to court was provocative and had insulted Muslims.
Political scientist Dr Jayum A Jawan from Universiti Putra Malaysia also dismissed Zulkifli’s warning, saying the Perkasa leader was just looking for a bogeyman.
"I don’t think anyone is trying to convert anybody. This is about faith and beliefs. People either embrace Islam or embrace Christianity, there is no conversion going on.
“They are making these allegations and spreading this talk for reasons best known to themselves."
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak political analyst Dr Arnold Puyok agreed, saying: "If there is any threat of proselytising, Perkasa must provide proof of its allegations.
"They are playing with fire by saying such things and the authorities must prevent them from doing so in the name of national security and harmony."
Khoo said civil society and Muslim intellectuals should reprimand Zulkilfi and tear to shreds his baseless assumptions.
He said, however, the prime minister should not join the fray. It was best for “for the PM to stay away from folks like Zulkifli Noordin”.
Jayum agreed, saying: “Asking the PM to rein in Perkasa would be giving them prominence and I don't think we should give them any attention."
Puyok, the other hand, said Datuk Seri Najib Razak should act quickly and boldly, at least by reminding Perkasa to stop making baseless allegations.
"It looks like Perkasa is more potent than Najib's global movement of moderates. Najib should use all the support and powers he has to promote the latter," he said.
On police inaction against people like Zulkifli, Khoo said the police served the ruling party more closely than the public.
“If the regime instructs the police to act against these perpetrators, it is likely that it will do so.
"But is the regime calling for any action against Zulkifli and his seditious statements?” he asked.
Puyok added that the real threat to Muslims was Perkasa trying to instil fear in them that they were losing their racial and religious identity, when, in fact, they were not.
"The status of Islam and the rights of the Malays are safeguarded by the Federal Constitution, so what threats are Perkasa talking about?"
He urged the police to act against Perkasa if their allegations were unfounded.
Jayum agreed, noting that Perkasa's accusations ran contrary to the prime minister's efforts to foster unity.
“The Malays, Chinese and Indians have had good relations all this while and when Sabah and Sarawak joined Malaysia, it became a more plural society. This is a historical fact that cannot be disputed."
He added that it was unfortunate that the NGO had a narrow view, with many Malays disagreeing with Perkasa.
"Perkasa lacks confidence. Malays today are highly confident, professional and want to reach out to others.
"Perkasa, on the other hand, appears like a relic," Jayum said.
Khoo said while Zulkifli could exercise his freedom of speech, he should not galvanise society to think like him.
"His talk will only impact on unity efforts if Umno and its president endorse Zulkifli's position.
"And if Umno endorses his candidacy again at the next elections, then the party deserves to lose more middle-ground votes."
Both Khoo and Puyok urged the media not to give Perkasa too must space.
"Instead of reporting everything Perkasa says, the media should focus more on efforts by the Government, NGOs or other parties to foster unity and nationhood,” said Puyok.
Khoo agreed, saying the media should stop reporting nonsense.

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