KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 — Malay rights group Perkasa today demanded a clearer explanation from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on his 1 Malaysia concept as failure to do so could result in Umno and Barisan Nasional being rejected.
Najib defended his 1 Malaysia policy yesterday, claiming that it was not a failure but a “work in progress”.
“Perkasa is very worried that if there are not enough efforts to explain the 1 Malaysia concept, it will cause certain communities to reject Umno and BN (Barisan Nasional),” Perkasa secretary-general Syed Hassan Syed Ali told The Malaysian Insider today, in a thinly-veiled reference to Malay conservatives.
“Perkasa has feedback from the Malay grassroots that this concept is still confusing,” he added.
Syed Hassan said some non-Malay communities perceived the 1 Malaysia policy as an initiative to create racial equality in sharing the economic pie where no particular race was prioritised.
“Among some non-Muslim communities, Perkasa finds that they believe the 1 Malaysia policy is an effort to equalise all races in terms of sharing the nation’s wealth and no race is given special treatment. All races are considered the same,” said Syed Hassan.
He pointed out that the 1 Malaysia concept must be based on the Federal Constitution.
“Perkasa accepts the 1 Malaysia concept that was stressed by the prime minister in Parliament not too long ago that it is based on the Federal Constitution,” said Syed Hassan.
Perkasa had said earlier that the policy was being twisted by some to claim racial equality, stressing instead that the 1 Malaysia concept must be founded on Article 153 of the Federal Constitution, which states the special position of the Bumiputeras and allows the government to set quotas for educational institutions, government jobs and permits.
Najib said yesterday, however, that the misuse of Article 153 could spiral into “sensitive” issues and hurt racial groups.
He also urged all individuals and institutions in the country to conduct a “1 Malaysia test” before making rash moves that could create racial tension.
The test required the individual to ask himself, “How does my stand on ethnic-based issues impact each community? Will it improve harmony or cause hatred towards my own race? Can it lead to an improved relationship between the races and improve national unity on a whole, or will it do otherwise?”
The 1 Malaysia policy has been decried by critics as a hollow slogan amid escalating racial tension, notably racially-tinged incidents involving two allegedly racist school principals and the furore surrounding a Chinese MP’s visit to a surau.
Najib’s weeks-long silence on racial issues like that of the school principals has earned him much flak from the public and the opposition who accused him of being like his predecessor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Yesterday, Najib reiterated his stand that his administration would continue affirmative action but would redefine the policies to make it fairer, more transparent and market-friendly.
Perkasa, however, has lobbied against attempts by the Najib administration to implement more inclusive economic reforms in a bid to increase the country’s competitiveness that has suffered because of affirmative action policies.
Using the Malay rights platform, Perkasa has opposed any proposal to remove Bumiputera quotas and has even taken MCA leaders to task for making such proposals.