KUALA LUMPUR, April 29 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today waded into the war of words between the MCA and Perkasa, telling his Barisan Nasional ally to rid itself of “extremist Chinese” before demanding Umno reject the Malay right-wing group.
The Chinese-based party blamed “organisations like Perkasa” for BN’s failure in recapturing the community’s support, especially in last Sunday’s Hulu Selangor by-election, with MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek condemning Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali for urging the government not to fulfil election pledges.
However, the former prime minister said Perkasa’s role was important because it ensured BN’s victory in the by-election.
“Maybe because of Perkasa, the Malay community voted for BN. If there is no Perkasa then BN would not have the Chinese or Malay votes,” Dr Mahathir told reporters after attending a lecture at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel here.
“If MCA wants Umno to distance itself from Perkasa, then MCA must distance themselves with extremist Chinese. Yes, there are lots of extremist Chinese. They even said that there are no people such as Malays,” he added.
In Sunday’s polls, MIC’s P. Kamalanathan secured a 1,725-vote majority win over PKR’s Datuk Zaid Ibrahim but failed to recapture votes from the Chinese community. BN only secured just over 20 per cent of the Chinese votes, down from the 35 per cent it had garnered during Election 2008.
Ibrahim has called the Chinese community “ungrateful” and urged the government to ignore demands made by the MCA and Gerakan as punishment for their failure to attract Chinese voters.
The Pasir Mas MP was criticised by Chinese leaders from both BN and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) for what was described as a racist and insensitive statement.
Kamalanathan has also taken measures to distance himself from the outspoken leader.
Dr Mahathir explained that Perkasa was only defending the interest of the Malay community.
“If you look it is balanced because there are extremist Chinese groups that are saying there are no people such as Malays. This is why we say that racial issues should not be discussed publicly. One person says something and other person must reply. You say the other person is racist but they also say that you are racist.
“I also don’t think Perkasa is driving a wedge between the Barisan Nasional’s component parties because there are others who are saying things which cause Perkasa to reply,” the former Umno president said.
He stressed that while it was important for the government to recapture Chinese support it must not neglect the Malay community.
“Everybody’s support is important. If you have all the Chinese supporting and no Malay support then we will still lose. In this country, we must have everybody’s support,” he said.
Ibrahim, who was a deputy minister in the Mahathir administration, stirred up controversy again today when he asked Chinese voters in Hulu Selangor to repent after they received RM3 million for a school which the prime minister had pledged during the election campaign.
The Malay rights leader also demanded the Chinese voters be “grateful” for the donation and suggested that the Chinese may have been promised more than the Malays of Hulu Selangor.