September 23, 2015
Red Shirts Rally in Defence of Najib Razak
by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee
So what did the Himpunan Maruah Melayu/Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu/ #Merah169 achieve? In the short term, it has strengthened Prime Minister Najib’s position as leader of UMNO and Prime Minister. But the cost to the nation’s social cohesion and race relations has been enormous and short of being disaster.–TG Lim
1. Did it restore Malay and Islamic honour and dignity?
The rally may have provided a day of catharsis for the participants and other supporters of the rally who were not there. But this public spectacle of the release of strong anti-Chinese emotions backed by posters saying “Chinese Immigrant Pigs Are Better Off Dead”, “Malaysia belongs to the Malays”, “Don’t challenge the Malays”, “Defend Malay rights” and similar threatening messages of hate was ugly, provocative and a stain on Malay honour and dignity, rather than a restoration.
The display of crass racism and hate mongering, and justification of racial supremacy by the speakers at Padang Merbok will be etched in the minds of young Malaysians especially. It will also go into the history books with future generations of Malays wondering how the community could have been so badly let down by its own leaders. How can it be otherwise when UMNO Supreme Council member, Tan Sri Annuar Musa, was proud to proclaim to reporters at the rally end: “I am racist but it’s racism based on Islam. Racism is allowed in Islam.”?
In the 1920s, Hitler’s Brown Shirts was organized to free Germany from the enemies of the German race. It led to the Holocaust and the Second World War. The Red Shirts in Malaysia are marching the same route by waving the racial banner and making racism the central dogma of the Malays and Islam in Malaysia.
2. Was it a spontaneous demonstration of the Malay masses led by Malay NGOs?
The turnout for the Himpunan Maruah Melayu/Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu/ #Merah169 rally mainly consisted of Malay poor and middle class. The largely sponsored and rent-a-rally motley crowd of 40 to 50 thousand – certainly nowhere close to the million strong participants promised by the organizers – appear to have been enticed to Padang Merbok both as much by the free transport, free food and free accommodation as the opportunity to defend UMNO and its President against the ungrateful pendatang and other groups intent on stealing Malaysia from the Malays.
Many participants were Felda settlers. These rural folk have long been UMNO’s fixed deposit. It is pathetic that they seem to have little concern or inkling that their livelihoods have been impoverished and their futures compromised not by the outside enemies displayed on their banners but by their fellow elite countrymen running Felda Global Ventures, another failed UMNO-driven enterprise. Similarly with the Malay NGOs that participated. It appears that they are in a different world from the one that other Malaysians are living in – such is their disconnect from the revelations of 1MDB and other recent financial scandals pointing the finger of treachery and guilt at UMNO and individuals from their own community.
3. UMNO played no part in this Malay rights rally?
The rally had UMNO’s finger prints all over it. This was visible right from the time a counter rally to the Bersih one was decided. On August 24, in a made for the press martial arts display in front of the Sogo shopping center in KL, the Red Shirt group led by Jamal Md. Yunos, the UMNO Sungei Besar Division Leader aka Ikan Bakar man, strutted their physical prowess by having five of its members beaten with pieces of wood and one member smash roof tiles with his head. This was intended to intimidate likely participants at the Bersih rally.
At that time Jamal claimed that his group would lead 30,000 people in red shirts to stage a counter rally on the same day as the Bersih one. He also stated that his followers were training with parang and swords for the Bersih rally. Besides demonizing Bersih, Jamal’s main message was to emphasize that the group would fight against any effort aimed at removing the Prime Minister from power.
When the first Red Shirt attempt to disrupt the Bersih rally failed, it was left to another UMNO higher up leader to mobilize the Malay masses in support of Najib’s leadership. Politically ambitious Ali Rustam, a former Chief Minister of Melaka, and presently UMNO Senator and head of Pesaka, the country’s national federation of silat associations, is no stranger to controversy. Found guilty of money politics when he ran for UMNO’s deputy presidency in 2009, he has been looking for an opportunity to make a come back. His organization provided the perfect Malay propaganda shield to persuade Malays to take part in a rally to defend Malay dignity and ‘protect’ the principles of the Rukunegara!
5. DAP is to be blamed for insulting the Malays and stomping on their dignity?
There were individual acts of political hooliganism that occurred during the Bersih rally. But these were isolated incidents. Neither the police nor the Malay media have been able to come up with any evidence that the DAP or Chinese were engaged in racial demonizing or guilty of any political vandalism that occurred in the Bersih rally.
One of the main objectives of the Bersih rally was the removal of the Prime Minister Najib Razak for his role in the 1MBD financial scandal. That objective has nothing to do with the dignity and honour of the Malays. It is one shared by many Malaysians, irrespective of ethnicity and including many UMNO members.
Perhaps one Chinese rather than all the pendatang and penumpang Cina vilified during the Red Shirt rally deserved the Malay crowd’s anger and scorn. Jho Low has been accused of a key role in the 1MDB fiasco and with the embezzlement of hundreds of millions of ringgit. There was not one banner that carried his image; not one chant condemning him for helping bring down Malay dignity and honour. But then, he, unlike DAP’s Lim Kit Siang, is close to the Prime Minister and his family according to the August 2009 photos put out by the Prime Minister’s Special Officer, Wan Shihab Ismail (see
What the Red Shirts Rally Achieved
So what did the Himpunan Maruah Melayu/Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu/ #Merah169 achieve? In the short term, it has strengthened Prime Minister Najib’s position as leader of UMNO and Prime Minister. But the cost to the nation’s social cohesion and race relations has been enormous and short of being a disaster.