The weakness of Perkasa

I have been following with interest, yet again, with the development of a new Malay-centric interest group called Perkasa.

Is its creation a necessity in an age where in the emerging force of change is multiculturalism and the rise of neo-Malays with cosmopolitan and cosmotheandric perspectives ready to abandon ultra-Malayness?


Azly Rahman

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The weakness of Perkasa lies in the gradual boredom-ness of its existence, in face of the excitement of radical marhaenism.

Ho hum. That is what all these newer developments in Malay-consciousness is about, as if we have not heard enough calls to protect the rights of the Malays – rights already enshrined in the constitution.

Ho hum. That is an expression of boredom unto all these, when we know that modern crutches and structures of disabilities of the Malay culture – ultra-nationalistic Youth parties, Biro Tata Negara, cow-head protesters and a myriad others – are still used to make the Malays scared of their own shadow.

Ho hum, when we are presented with the boring story of yet another organisation whose goal is to promote the philosophy of ‘we versus them’ in a country mystified with the slogan ‘1Malaysia’; of being and becoming one in a metaphysical world of blue ocean strategies of shark-eat-shark.

kongsi raya multi cultural celebrationPerkasa is unnecessary, I believe. Malays need to intermingle with other races and learn from each other meaningfully; more than just visiting each other during festive seasons and  putting up banners during Deepa-Raya, Kongsi-Raya or Christmas-Raya or any other ritualistic social gathering American-Thanksgiving style.

Deep and serious dialogue on the arts, humanities, philosophy, and spiritual consciousness is needed in all of us so that we may eliminate fear, battle evil within, stamp out mistrust, and find common ground in the aspects of cultures we can hybridise. Culture is dynamic and contains enabling and disabling aspects. Perkasa represents the disabling aspect of Malay culture, and critical consciousness needs to permeate the psyche of its members.

Neo-Malays (or rather, philosophically framed, cosmotheandric and post-modern Malays) need to stay away from interest groups that continue to misrepresent them. More discussions on how best to move this country forward in all spheres of life should dominate those cafes, warong, teh tarik joints, and other places of hanging out.

Universities and educational institutions need to discuss radical multicultural philosophy a la radical marhaenism to bring future Malaysian leaders together as equal cultural partners in nation-building. We do not want to see in decades to come Malaysian universities offering course such as ‘Hitler-studies in Malaysian context’ or ‘The Rise of Asian Nazism’ to battle the wave of hate-crimes and the rise of Hitlerian thinking.

Mobilising Neo-Malays

But who would lead the radical change in this new Malaysian consciousness? I see two possible groups:

•    Academicians, if they are willing to stick their neck out and challenge the dominant ideology and the ideologues. But they are co-opted and are not free to voice their opinion in fear of retribution.

•    Artists, professionals, theologians, humanists, artisans, students – they are all over the place but the danger is that they are being fragmented by the wave of individualism, postmodernism, and non-committal.

In my flights of fancy, I would call the genesis of a separate radical identity that would set this group free from any political groups yet close to the ideals of a just and virtuous republic governed by transcultural philosophy. It is one that will produce independent ideas of change and writings that will make Malays face history and transform it, leaving behind the vestiges of feudalism and crafting an existentialist Malay history honoring absurd, marginalised, enslaved, and fallen heroes buried alive in modern history textbooks. I have written about this in an article on the new post-tribe ‘Sawojaya’.

The conceptualisation of a new race is difficult for many Malays to accept, especially when dealing with the repertoire of symbolism of Malayness. My vision is a republic of virtue no less, but must begin with us traveling the path of transcendentalist and romanticist idea of Nature and the natural state of human beings. In matter of cosmopolitanism in religious belief, it will take perhaps another half a century for Malays to acquire the taste for engaging in inter-faith dialogue. It is a very difficult task.

One has to be a ‘stranger’ and an ‘outsider’ Malay or an ‘ugly Malay’ in order to excavate the disabling cultures of the Malays. To continue to form support any organisation that has an alliance with the ‘powerful and wealthy Malays’ would retard the march for a populist intellectual change.

anti ppsmi rally 070209 samad saidASAS 50, a child of Poejangga Baru and perhaps Lekra, was a very successful movement that also created the radical Malay thinkers of Independence (mainly teachers and writers). Kasim Ahmad, Syed Husin Ali, Tongkat Warrant, Kemala, Usman Awang, Samad Said (left), and even P Ramlee to an extent were foundational in spearheading this movement, inspired perhaps too by the works of Indonesian poets such as Chairil Anwar, WS Rendra, Putu Wijaya, Ajip Rosidi, and writers such as Prem (Pramoedya Ananta Toer) and Muchtar Lubis.

Perkasa might be reduced to a weak force that fails to take off. I would suggest it be disbanded or be funded to teach multi-cultural understanding in kampongs. How much shouting can one make on the streets in support of those who eat too much durian in six-star hotels?


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