Ex-Election Commission chairman chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman has joined Malay right-wing group Perkasa, helmed by Datuk Ibrahim Ali (with a keris). – The Malaysian Insider file pic, November 25, 2013.It must have been one of Kuala Lumpur’s best kept secrets.
Long seen as cosmopolitan and suave, former Election Commission (EC) chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman has joined Malay right-wing group Perkasa, saying his experience can help the majority race keep power.
The long-serving EC employee made his debut at the Perkasa Federal Territory chapter meeting yesterday, after signing up six months ago.
His reason for joining the right-wing group: Abdul Rashid wants to champion Malay rights and ensure they remain in the scheme of things after the next general election.
As Perkasa is widely seen as an offshoot of Umno, Abdul Rashid must mean Umno, but the ruling coalition lynchpin party’s name never came up during his speech or press conference.
"With my experience and knowledge in the EC, I will help Perkasa to achieve this," said Abdul Rashid yesterday while opening the Perkasa Federal Territory annual general meeting at the Kelab Sultan Sulaiman yesterday.
Abdul Rashid, 69, said he was invited to join the group many times by its president, Datuk Ibrahim Ali.
"When I decided to come in, I told him that it will be all right for me to be just be an ordinary member but Ibrahim wanted me to be in the council as he said it would be easier for me to give my views on improving the organisation," said Abdul Rashid.
Yesterday, Abdul Rashid gave a glimpse of what he has in store for the right-wing group and Malaysia during his speech.
"There are so many things that we need to do. It's not just talking about it but we also have to act on it. But first and foremost, we have to be respectful of our leader (Ibrahim Ali)," said Abdul Rashid to cheers from 300-odd Perkasa members.
Abdul Rashid said, at present, Perkasa behaved like firemen who rushed off to douse fires. Perkasa would talk or act only if there was an issue involving Malay rights.
"We cannot be running here and there. We have to focus and fight and have to continue fighting until we get results."
He said Perkasa was not a place to make money or gain power and people should not question his motive.
"I am here not to seek power or money. Joining Perkasa means I have to be ready to fight."
The former EC chairman said Malays will have to remain in power politically as the country belonged to the Malays.
"This place was called the Malay Federation (Tanah Persekutuan Melayu) and when we gained independence, it was changed to Malaya and after other states joined us, it again changed to West Malaysia (Malaysia Barat). This land has always belonged to the Malays. It's in the history" said Abdul Rashid without wanting to be drawn on the role of other races in Malaysia.
He said three re-delineation exercises of electoral borders, which were done during his time with the EC, had ensured Malays remained in power. "We did it in a proper way. Not illegally. The people who lost in the past general elections claimed that we did it wrong. But if we did, how did Barisan Nasional lose to the opposition in Kelantan, Penang and Selangor?" asked Abdul Rashid.
He said there were Malays now who criticised their own people for fighting and protecting Malay interests.
"This we call Malay haprak (disgusting). They are not the real Malay, not like us (Perkasa members). We’re not those who would insult our own people.” Abdul Rashid also said 55% of the country’s 28 million population were aged 21 years and above.
He said of the percentage only 6.3 million Malays registered as voters when the number should be 15.3 million. As for the Bumiputeras, Abdul Rashid said eligible voters should be around 19% but only 10% registered.
He said with the combination of votes of Malays and Bumiputera, the Malays could easily retain political power.
"Our aim is to get all the Malays of eligible age to register and to vote. Our numbers are bigger. Not only I want Malays to be in power but also we must be stronger."
"The more they don't like us, the stronger we are. Even if you put Ibrahim Ali behind bars, Perkasa will keep moving forward."
Abdul Rashid said that he is ready to face his critics over his move to join Perkasa.
"It took me a while. I was looking for the right organisation as I do lots of charity and Perkasa is an organisation that is involved in a lot in charity and its agenda focuses on the Malays and the religion. I figure this is it. The best platform for me as I am a Malay and a Muslim," said Abdul Rashid.
Asked if he feared that people would shun him now that he had linked up with Perkasa, Abdul Rashid had this to say to his critics.
"Some did not like me when I was EC chairman but there were also those who loved me. It is the same with joining Perkasa. In fact, there will be more love than hate," said Abdul Rashid with a smile.
Abdul Rashid managed six of Malaysia’s 12 general elections. He was EC secretary from 1979 and its chairman from 2000 to 2008.
He retired shortly after the 2008 general election, a watershed polls, which among others galvanised calls to improve electoral laws and practices.
That push culminated in a Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform last year which adopted new measures, including use of indelible ink and an expansion of postal voting facilities to more overseas Malaysians. – November 25, 2013.