KUALA LUMPUR, March 27 — Malay rights movement Perkasa is fighting for the community’s rights now because Umno is not doing its job, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.
He defended non-governmental organisations (NGO) like Perkasa existence as necessary if the ruling coalition is unable to protect the country’s main community.
“Why were there no Malays NGOs in the past, only now? I say there are so many now because there is an erosion of confidence in Umno as a protector of their fate,” the outspoken Dr Mahathir said when opening Perkasa’s first annual general meeting here today.
“They are of the opinion that if Umno cannot protect them, they must protect themselves,” he added, drawing loud applause from the floor.
Dr Mahathir observed that the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government was being bombarded by loud demands from all quarters for a bigger slice of the economic pie, which distressed the Malays who were worried about their position.
“I’m not saying the government is one-sided but weak. The reality today is the support for Umno and Barisan Nasional is not as strong as it was during Tun Razak’s time, or Hussein Onn’s or even mine,” the fourth prime minister said, referring to his predecessors.
But Dr Mahathir who rule from 1981 before retiring in 2003, said he was confident the present prime minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, will be able to reverse the tide in Umno’s favour.
“I am confident Najib’s leadership can change things. But Najib must listen to the complains of other races, but he must not forget the conplains of the Malays,” the 84 year-old added, reminding the prime minister that the “Malays are his constituents”.
He said that as long as there was imbalance in the treatment accorded to the Malays, there would be no equality among the races in the country.
Dr Mahathir wrapped up his speech by hoping that Perkasa may soon be disbanded.
“For now, a Malay NGO like Perkasa is needed, not to thump their chests but to determine the success of the Malay fight; a fight that does not create any loss for other races but for Malays to claim their rights.
“We want a win-win result. We don’t want to take everything for ourselves but for all to succeed,” he said to a standing ovation.
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