Ibrahim Ali has declared that Perkasa's role on July 9 is to uphold democracy in the country.
KUALA LUMPUR: Perkasa chief, Ibrahim Ali, today emphasised that Perkasa’s planned ground presence during the Bersih rally on July 9 was a reflection of its stand for peace and democracy in the country.
Two weeks ago, Ibrahim announced the formation of a new umbrella coalition called NGO-NGO Prihatin Keamanan Negara or Gerak Aman to counter the rally which he has accused of being a rescue mission of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.
“Do not blame Perkasa if any chaos erupts on that day,” he warned during a press conference this evening. “I have already said that I would call off our gathering if Bersih calls off the rally. We are a group that is pro-peace. I’m only reacting to Bersih and its political agenda to overthrow the government.”
“So I hope the police on that day can differentiate between Perkasa and Bersih. The difference is our intention to uphold peace in the country. Is that a crime?”
Ibrahim explained that Perkasa and Gerak Aman had been giving speeches in 22 locations so far during which its members were briefed not to tout any weapons or engage in provocative behaviour on July 9.
Asked if he could guarantee that Perkasa members would abide by these directives, he shot back, “Can Bersih give the same guarantee? It is a big crowd and we have done our part in advising our members to behave in a peaceful manner. We are not there to demonstrate. We are there to uphold peace.”
While he declined to reveal the anticipated number of Perkasa members who would show up on that day, he sneered at an online news report that put the number at 500.
“The Malaysian Insider said that there wouldn’t be more than 500 but we shall wait and see,” he said. “Perkasa people are brave people. We are willing to face any consequences. We don’t ‘baling batu, sembunyi tangan’ (throw a stone and hide our hands).”
The last remark was directed at social activist, Hishammudin Rais, whose name appeared today on Utusan’s published list of Bersih working committee members.
“I knew Hishammudin way back then,” Ibrahim said. “After causing chaos during the Baling demonstration in 1974, he fled the country while I was arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA). He smeared the country’s name but he returned home with Anwar’s help and no action has been taken against him since.”
Hishammudin, however, told FMT that he is not part of Bersih’s working committee but a mere organiser at one of the coalition’s events.
‘I’m a journalist too’
The press conference also saw a heated Ibrahim lashing out at the journalists from the alternative media for allegedly manipulating his statements and misrepresenting Perkasa.
“I’m a Mass Communications graduate and I’m a journalist too,” he said. “I was at the School of Freedom in Germany for three months in early 1974 and I was taught how to be a responsible journalist.”
Ibrahim was questioned yesterday by police for allegedly threatening the Chinese to “stock up on food” because “anything can happen during the rally”.
Implying that his words were taken out of context, he insisted that his statement was only advice and not a threat. But the incident has remained a sore point with him.
Ibrahim also said that the news portal had grossly underestimated the size of the crowd when Gerak Aman was launched that day, and had failed to notice the presence of Chinese and Indians there.
“The reporter who said there were only 500 people at the launch must have been blind,” he said sarcastically. “And the Chinese even took pictures with me. This is why I said they should stay home. Because they are not interested in this sort of issue. The Chinese and Indians are only concerned about business.”
“The only Chinese who will be at the rally will probably be DAP since they are also Bersih anchors. And since a majority of Bersih consists of PAS members, what you will have on that day is PAS Malay meeting Perkasa Malay.”
Ibrahim also warned the online media to ensure that it broadcast the entire footage of the Bersih rally and not an edited version of “people shouting at me”.
When grilled by another online journalist on his earlier statements, the visibly annoyed Ibrahim told her, “If you want to stay in a safe country you better stop talking like this.”