Time’s up for Utusan, Dr M and Perkasa

Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle

A long overdue public grilling for the Umno-owned Utusan daily may just do the trick in helping to shore up public belief that Prime Minister Najib Razak is serious about wanting to chart a new direction for his party and BN coalition.

Utusan has been a key factor along with former premier Mahathir Mohamad and ultra-Malay rights group Perkasa in fomenting the greatest racial and religious discord the country has seen in decades.

In 2008, its twisted reporting landed Seputeh MP Teresa Kok in jail on ISA detention. In 2009, its call to Bangkitlah Melayu or Arise Malays not only roused the community but also sowed the seeds for the current groundswell of anti-Umno sentiment amongst the other ethnic groups.

Sowed the seeds for an anti-Umno groundswell

In 2010, it went head-to-head with PAS’ Harakahdaily over the Allah issue, carried out countless attacks to vilify Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, created racial hatred for Serdang MP Teo Nie Ching and rapper Namewee. Now, its editors may be fighting for their jobs if they insist on continuing to churn out stories that pit the races against each.

For this is what it amounts to – media-generated racial warfare. Utusan cannot deny its slew of pro-Perkasa articles published in recent days is aimed at rallying Malay support, but against whom and for what? The obvious answer is against the non-Malays and for racial and political dominance.

There is also speculation that the Utusan articles are meant to turn Malay sentiment against Najib, to make him appear to be anti-Malay in comparison with Mahathir and Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

But even with narrower, factional interests involved, the ultimate damage will be on the country as a whole, and the psyche of the various ethnic groups risk being permanently scarred by this sort of blindsided race-bashing.


And this is why Nazri Aziz, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, should not lose any more time going after Utusan.

Nazri – tough-talking minister

He is widely regarded as Najib’s muse. But even so, as with all maneuvers, his words are only significant if there is follow-through action especially if Utusan chooses to defy Najib. What will Nazri and Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein do then?

If Nazri’s barely-veiled threat to Utusan fizzles out, then the victory for Najib’s foes within Umno will resound and the situation will turn very ominously for him and his allies. It would also fan out to benefit the Pakatan Rakyat and further drag down public confidence in Najib’s leadership.

“It is actually Najib’s own fault for moving so slowly and softy. He barely has time now to rally Malaysians back to his camp. He should not worry about his hold on Umno. No matter how powerful the warlords – they will come round to him once he shows he can unite the country and deliver victory,” an Umno watcher told Malaysia Chronicle.

“Who else in Umno can do it? Muhyiddin, Mahathir? Not to be rude, but the DPM is not national material. Mahathir is past his prime and after showing his true colors and reminding the country how racist he is, the only way he can unite Malaysia now will be through the military or force.”