Malaysia

Let’s see who’s bigger, Perkasa dares Bersih

By Shannon Teoh
June 15, 2011

A sea of protesters gathers near Istana Negara during the first Bersih rally in Kuala Lumpur, November 10, 2007. — Reuters picA sea of protesters gathers near Istana Negara during the first Bersih rally in Kuala Lumpur, November 10, 2007. — Reuters picKUALA LUMPUR, June 15 — Claiming the support of 36 NGOs, Perkasa threw down the gauntlet last night to organisers of the Bersih gathering to see who could rally more support when the two groups face off in the federal capital on July 9.

The Malay rights group said that it had no choice but to take to the streets to counter election watchdogs Bersih because “if we don’t, then the world will think that they have the support of all Malaysians.”

“Wait for July 9, then we will see who has more,” Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali told reporters after chairing a roundtable meeting with representatives from various NGOs.

The Pasir Mas MP insisted the 37 NGOs including Perkasa was not trying to “create chaos” as alleged by critics but simply wanting to show that “we are rakyat as well.”

“The Bersih gathering has a hidden political agenda to cause chaos. There is no justification to gather hundreds of thousands simply to ask for free and fair elections when the Election Commission has already answered.

Ibrahim says Perkasa is not out to cause mischief. — file picIbrahim says Perkasa is not out to cause mischief. — file pic“Please don’t assume we are trying to create chaos. That makes no sense at all. Our stand is simple. They march, we march. They cancel, we cancel. We don’t want them to say they are doing this in the name of the rakyat. We are also the rakyat,” he said.

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parties and activists are gearing up to march next month in the second such rally by Bersih, the first being in 2007 when up to 50,000 were reported to have gathered in the capital, with many being dispersed by water cannons and tear gas fired by the police.

PAS has promised to bring 300,000 protestors this year in hopes that it will galvanise support for the opposition in the general election expected within the year.

The 2007 rally was said to play a big role in bringing record gains for the opposition electoral pact in Election 2008, where it swept five state governments and won 82 parliamentary seats.

Umno-owned daily Utusan Malaysia has urged Malaysians to boycott the protest and quoted Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein’s warning that “it will be chaotic when those for and against the street demonstration clash”.

Ibrahim also echoed Utusan Malaysia’s claim that Bersih was being led by those who are anti-Islam.

Saying that Bersih chief and former Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreevanasan has been pushing for an interfaith council and supported Lina Joy’s apostasy, Ibrahim called for PAS to withdraw its support for the rally.

Perkasa also announced that it will launch the Anti-Bersih Movement on June 19, when it expects more NGOs to join its ranks.

Also present at today’s roundtable were former PKR lawmakers Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohamed Hashim and Datuk Zulkifli Noordin who are now independent MPs.