Don’t be naive, Perkasa is not pro-interfaith and Anwar’s church talk was clearly political


Hazlan Zakaria, The Ant Daily

Malay rights NGO Perkasa is not the prime platform to promote interfaith dialogue as its stance has always been more provocative than conciliatory, and on the flip side there is no denying that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Kajang church talk was political.

Despite its claim to be defending the constitution, Perkasa has demonstrated that it only does so to justify its claim that its reactionary actions are in defence of Malay rights, Malay rulers and Islam.

Indeed political observers have labelled Perkasa the outsourced arm of Umno to project extremist views necessary to secure Malay hardliners’ support, but no longer palatable to the “moderate” party administration under president Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Perkasa had cried foul that opposition leader Anwar was invited to speak at a Kajang church on interfaith matters and urged that it too be hosted at such talks.

The church dialogue organiser, the PKR-linked Centre for Reform executive director Dr Edmund Santhara, said it well when asked by a news portal if he would invite Perkasa or other such NGOs to the pulpit in Kajang.

He said: “As for Perkasa, it is notorious not just for its intolerant views, but for its propensity for race-baiting and incitement to religious hatred, and any suggestion of inviting them to address an interfaith forum is out of the question.”

He was responding to calls from former Perkasa vice-president Datuk Zulkifli Noordin who challenged the Holy Family Church (HFC), where the talk was held, and the Centre for Reform to invite NGOs Perkasa and Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) as well.

Santhara, however, was willing to invite Najib to visit the church for a similar talk.

Zulkifli had also accused the organiser of holding a politically linked event and Anwar of blatantly “fishing for votes” for the coming Kajang by-election.

Santhara and the hosts argued that the talk was a social event and not political, a much needed panacea for our country that is being pricked by needles of those seeking sectarian conflict.

But in this matter, the shoe was on the other foot. Denials from HFC and the Centre for Reform notwithstanding, no one can pretend that Anwar’s presence was not politically linked.

If he was there sans political baggage, he would not have mentioned Kajang or his plans for the town if he won for that matter.

It is sound political strategy; just don’t deny it and look stupid.

He was there to canvas for support and votes and that is clear as day. Despite the neuvo-politics strategies being deployed by Anwar’s main strategic adviser, Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli, the PKR team seems to be adopting old strategies in its public relations.

If there is to be a shift to more advanced political strategies like the much-vaunted “Kajang Move”, there should also be mature political awareness among those who seek to practise it.

PKR should just admit that putting Anwar on the pulpit was a political strategy; after all he had already made known that Kajang is to be a platform for unity.

Let’s not be naive about it. Yes, Perkasa is the last group one would engage on interfaith relations, but Anwar’s Kajang church talk was also clear-cut political posturing.