Ibrahim Ali: What will 3 blocked arteries mean to him

Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle

Malaysia’s most controversial race-champion Ibrahim Ali has three blocked blood vessels in his heart and is now resting ahead of his by-pass operation scheduled for Monday, and while fellow politicians and well-wishers pray for his recovery, few Malaysians cannot help but wonder if he will exit from this latest challenge a man changed for the better.

The short but portly 57-year old has been in the thick of a political maelstrom created by the ruling Umno party, which is gearing itself for snap general elections widely expected to be announced early next year. Despite being the independent Member of Parliament for Pasir Mas in Kelantan, Ibrahim Ali is regarded as an Umno rider and Umno – which is Prime Minister Najib Razak’s party – is known for its divide-and-rule racist policies.

Ibrahim has indeed angered Malaysians especially the non-Malays with dramatic proclamations that he cared for nobody and nothing but his own Malay race. Together with his ultra-Malay rights group Perkasa, he has tried to fan and stir up trouble between the various communities.

So drastic and racist have some of their statements and actions been that they have been featured prominently in most of the influential international press, creating untold damage for Malaysia’s image as a politically stable nation and an attractive destination for investors.

“He was sort of like a guinea-pig for Umno when they tried to shift out all the racial rabble rousing activities to Perkasa but it didn’t work because people still linked Perkasa back to Umno,” PKR strategic director Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle

One of the most popular spoofs

“In the end, with the help of Utusan and Perkasa, Umno has come off as even more racist-minded than before when its Youth chiefs used to brandish the keris and chant pro-Malay slogans that insulted the other ethnic groups.”

Perkasa made him a national figure

Ibrahim burst into national prominence at the start of this year when he founded Perkasa. Although he has vehemently denied it, most Malaysians believe he was “instructed” to do so by top Umno power-brokers that included former premier Mahathir Mohamad, who is also the Perkasa’s patron.

It is not know for certain the size of Perkasa’s membership but Ibrahim Ali has boasted it exceeds 200,000 – most of whom are the right-wing conservatives from Umno itself.

On his own, Ibrahim has had a chequered political career. Most Malaysians call him katak or frog for his party-hopping ways. He has been sacked by Umno before and was a member of the now-defunct Semangat 46. On and off, he has flirted with the Islamist PAS, and in 2008, even managed to wheedle endorsement from the party – which is known for its political shrewdness – during the 2008 general election.

“Ibrahim is like a parasite, hopping from tree to tree to cari makan (make a living). Whichever tree he is on will somehow die and then he will flutter on to the next,” PAS MP for Kota Bharu Wan Rahim had told Harakahdaily.