Umno veteran warns opposition on street rallies

Such demonstrations could also be organised to purge state governments, Ali Rustam says

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (left) and National Silat Federation (Pesaka) president Ali Rustam shouting slogans during a Pesaka assembly in Kuala Lumpur last month.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (left) and National Silat Federation (Pesaka) president Ali Rustam shouting slogans during a Pesaka assembly in Kuala Lumpur last month.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR • Umno veteran Datuk Seri Ali Rustam has warned opposition parties to keep themselves in check or street rallies could be organised to purge their state governments in Selangor and Penang.

The comments by Mr Ali followed a recent announcement by a fellow Umno leader to hold a demonstration against Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail in her Kajang constituency in Selangor.

Condemning the string of Bersih rallies which last saw tens of thousands of people, mostly non-Malays, congregating in Kuala Lumpur, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu on Aug 29 and 30 to demand a clean government, Mr Ali questioned if the demonstrations were the best approach to replace the Najib administration, the Malay Mail Online (MMO) news site reported.

"If whichever party, including the opposition, feels that that is the way to go about it, then we can also do likewise towards the Penang and Selangor state governments," the former Malacca chief minister told the Umno-owned Malay-language daily Utusan Malaysia.

"There are plenty of issues in these two states, but is that the best way to solve problems?" he questioned.

Penang is currently run by the Democratic Action Party, while Selangor is overseen by the PKR.

Mr Ali is president of the government-funded National Silat Federation (Pesaka), which called out thousands of protesters, now collectively known as the "red shirts", for an anti-Chinese march to Petaling Street in Kuala Lumpur two weeks ago.

He said the Sept 16 "red shirts" Himpunan Maruah Melayu (Malay Dignity Uprising) movement was a tit-for-tat move against the two-day Bersih 4 protest in August.

During the Bersih event, supporters were photographed stomping on images of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, president of Parti Islam SeMalaysia, an opposition Islamic party. Mr Ali said the actions went against the values of Islam and Malay culture.

He also claimed that the protesters at all four Bersih rallies had insulted leaders, the Rukunegara - the national ideology of Malaysia - and the Federal Constitution.

He did not provide examples, according to the MMO.

"This is why we decided to have a demonstration that was allowed by the government," he said.

Earlier this week, Umno's Sungai Besar division chief Jamal Md Yunos, who was also a co-organiser of the "red shirts" rally, told the New Straits Times that the group was planning another rally in Kajang, where he claimed residents felt cheated by Kajang assemblyman Dr Wan Azizah, who allegedly failed to render assistance to residents affected by flash floods.

A "red shirts" rally slated for Sept 26 was aborted with the arrest of Datuk Jamal under Section 105 of the Criminal Procedure Code over his alleged threat to cause a riot in Petaling Street, or Chinatown.

Bersih 4 activists have been demanding the resignation of Datuk Seri Najib over financial scandals involving state-owned investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which he advises.

Many Malay critics have denounced the Bersih rally, the fourth since 2007, as part of an attempt by the Chinese to usurp political power.

Mr Najib is embroiled in a political storm after Malaysian authorities probing 1MDB found that some US$670 million (S$956 million) had been transferred into bank accounts in his name. He said the money was donations.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 01, 2015, with the headline 'Umno veteran warns opposition on street rallies'. Print Edition | Subscribe