KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 — Former Umno MP Datuk Ruhanie Ahmad insisted today that Malay rights group Perkasa is “not racialist”, and must not be judged solely by its firebrand president Datuk Ibrahim Ali.
The Perkasa supreme council member also said that he has problems with liberalism only if the ideology espouses total and absolute freedom, warning that it will then erode Malaysia’s national identity.
“Perkasa is not just Ibrahim Ali. Perkasa is really about former civil servants, citizens who are professionals and the rest. We are not [just] Ibrahim Ali as you perceive,” Ruhanie told a Liberalism Conference held by by think-tank Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS).
To prove his point, Ruhanie said Perkasa has even held dialogue sessions with Christian groups, and was invited by the Singapore High Commission to brief about the country’s situation.
“If liberalism is about personal liberty, primacy of individual rights, about freedom of choice, I’m not against it,” said the former Parit Sulong MP
“But if liberalism is translated to being synonymous to total unrestricted, absolute freedom irrespective of any limitation, in order to maintain national survival and security, then such misconceived idea could be fatal to our collective identity.”
Such interpretation, Ruhanie said, will then lead to the public questioning the rights of the Malays.
Ruhanie however was refuted by activist Khalid Jaafar, who said that the no liberal thinker has proposed that liberalism means total freedom as it must still submit to the rule of law.
“What you’re talking about is anarchy… All the anti-liberal Malaysian leaders, they’re talking about anarchy or state of nature,” said Khalid, who heads the Institut Kajian Dasar think-tank.
In January this year, Ibrahim had hit back at accusations of extremism today, labelling Muslim moderates and liberals as the racist and extremist groups instead of Perkasa.