What have you done for the Malays? Perkasa asks 25 who wrote open letter

The Malay rights group pointed out that unlike the 25, Perkasa speaks for its over half a million Bumiputera members, among which 90 per cent are Malay and Muslim. — Picture by Choo Choy May
The Malay rights group pointed out that unlike the 25, Perkasa speaks for its over half a million Bumiputera members, among which 90 per cent are Malay and Muslim. — Picture by Choo Choy May

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 9 — Perkasa scoffed at the open letter from 25 influential Malays who argued on the supremacy of the Federal Constitution over Islamic law, and demanded to know what the group, which comprised mostly of retired civil servants, had done to help their race during their years of service.

The Malay rights group pointed out that unlike the 25, Perkasa speaks for its over half a million Bumiputera members, among which 90 per cent are Malay and Muslim.

In one example, Perkasa secretary-general Syed Hassan Syed Ali asked why the 25 had remained silent during the high-profile trial of the Catholic Church’s fight against a ban prohibiting it from referring to God with the Arabic word “Allah”.

“Where were they when so many parties were disputing Muslim and Malay interests?” Syed Hassan asked Malay Mail Online.

“Don’t suddenly try to be a hero and act as if everyone else is wrong and you’re right. Why do you suddenly want to speak out and talk about Islam and the Malays?” the senior official of the Malay rights group continued.

In an open letter posted on Malay Mail Online’s website yesterday, the group of 25 influential Malays also stressed that any law enacted, including Islamic laws, cannot violate the Federal Constitution, especially its provisions on fundamental liberties, federal-state division of powers and legislative procedures.

The group also highlighted the lack of public awareness on the legal jurisdiction and limits of the religious authorities’ powers and administration of Islamic laws in Malaysia, insisting that all Acts, Enactments, and even fatwa (religious edicts) are bound by the Federal Constitution and are open to judicial review.

The group listed down five pressing issues to be dealt with by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the first being the areas of conflict and overlap between civil and Shariah laws, insisting that the laws on Shariah Criminal Offences must especially be reviewed after a Cabinet directive in 1999 to do so was ignored.

But Perkasa, a strong Malay-Muslim rights advocate that has often warned against liberalism and pluralism creeping into Malaysia’s brand of Islam, insisted that the voices of the 25 individuals may not represent the majority of Malays here.

Apart from its membership, the group noted that a Merdeka Centre survey three years ago had also shown that 70 per cent of Malays in Malaysia support them.

“This means that even though they’re not Perkasa members, many Malays support Perkasa’s struggle,” he said.

But who, he asked, do these 25 influential Malays represent?

“Which Malays? Which Muslims? How big is the percentage of Malays that you represent? What is the proof of the percentage that you speak? Don’t say that you represent us!” he said.

The Perkasa secretary-general also claimed that the government posts previously held by many among the 25, including the secretary-general and director-general posts, were the most corrupt during their time.

“Not all… but those 25 people are surely free of corruption because they dare to talk about Islam,” said Syed Hassan.

“Those who try to threaten the rights of the Malays and the sanctity of Islam, just like a few people who were clearly rude about Islam, the Malays and the rulers, you don’t even call them extremists.

“Whatever it is, this country is also your country. So you have a right to speak. But don’t deny us our right to speak!” he added.

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