Perkasa flip-flop shows up Najib’s fears, say political foes, analysts

By Boo Su-Lyn, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s refusal to alienate Perkasa reflects his fears of Umno being rejected by Malay voters and potential in-fighting within his party, say his political foes and analysts. 

The prime minister quelled fears of a showdown with Perkasa on Friday when he said the country’s largest Malay party was not in conflict with any non-governmental organisation despite the recent move by Umno leaders to distance the party from the Malay rights group. 

“Umno members who are also Perkasa members may retaliate against Umno, so there is a negative impact on Umno,” PAS secretary-general Datuk Mustafa Ali told The Malaysian Insider, referring to the decision by Umno leaders to reject Perkasa. 

“So, Najib made the statement to redress the statement made earlier on by the Umno secretary-general. It is some form of damage control by Najib,” said Mustafa. 

Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor had earlier told his Barisan Nasional (BN) allies that Umno would not back Perkasa or its president Datuk Ibrahim Ali in the next general election as such a move would erode non-Malay support for the ruling coalition. 

Ibrahim then warned Umno not to be complacent about its vote bank and threatened to give “guidance” to Perkasa’s 300,000 members — 80 per cent of whom are alleged to be disillusioned Umno members — on how to vote in the next general election. 

Tengku Adnan, who is also the BN secretary-general, has now said his statement did not repudiate Perkasa but was just an acknowledgment the Malay rights movement was eroding the coalition’s non-Malay support. 

Political analyst James Chin said that Najib could not afford to make a public stand against Perkasa as doing so would cause Malay voters to reject the party. 

“He (Najib) cannot do that because if he does that, it will alienate the Malay ground,” said Chin. 

The political scientist from the University of Monash dismissed Najib as being just like his predecessor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for attempting to please everyone.

“He is just like Pak Lah by trying to be nice to everyone under the sun. Whatever he does, he is preparing for the next general election,” said Chin, referring to the former premier’s moniker. 

DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang also mocked Najib as “Mr. Flip Flop” for his refusal to snub Perkasa despite his party leaders’ decision to do so. 

“Is he a new Mr Flip Flop from one position to another? It is a question of whether he has the political will to make a stand,” said the Ipoh Timur MP. 

Political analyst Dr Lim Teck Ghee pointed out that Najib’s refusal to castigate Perkasa’s strident views on Malay rights – which have been at odds with his agenda of economic reform — indicated indecisive leadership.