Thursday, February 20, 2014

Unity council chief rebukes Perkasa, says aim to restore racial, religious harmony

BY ELIZABETH ZACHARIAH
FEBRUARY 20, 2014
Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali had labelled a few National Unity Consultative Council members as ‘anti-nationalist’, a charge which NUCC chairman Tan Sri Samsudin Osman has refuted. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, February 20, 2014.Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali had labelled a few National Unity Consultative Council members as ‘anti-nationalist’, a charge which NUCC chairman Tan Sri Samsudin Osman has refuted. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, February 20, 2014.Putrajaya's fledgling unity council has fired back at Malay rights group Perkasa for calling its members "anti-nationalist", with its chairman, Tan Sri Samsudin Osman, saying his colleagues are patriots fighting to stem racial and religious discord.
The National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) chairman said the members were determined to find a solution to the rising racial and religious tensions in Malaysia although Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali had labelled a few as "anti-nationalist" and others as the Coalition of Malaysian NGOs' (Comango) activists.
“We’ve had two meetings so far and what showed up in these meetings is that all of us love the country so much and want to see a solution to what's happening now," he told The Malaysian Insider in Kuala Lumpur.
He also refuted Perkasa’s view that some members of the NUCC were partisan and not representative of the Malaysian population, saying the 30 members of the newly formed council were concerned that the recent acts of provocation had brought discord to national unity.
Ibrahim had said that the NUCC was not fit to advise Putrajaya on race and religious issues, and called for the council to be scrapped and replaced with Malay NGOs which would promote "real and true unity".
To this, Samsudin insisted that every member of the NUCC was "working very hard" to get to the bottom of racial and religious issues and to propose solutions to the government as soon as possible.
"Yes, we are all from different backgrounds and don't have the same political affiliations but we have one thing in common – we all love Malaysia so much and are determined to restore harmony and unity," he said in defence of the council.
"Our members are sincerely and earnestly working to find solutions and I have not heard any of them say they want to 'cari gaduh' (pick a fight).”
The NUCC was formed on November 30 in the aftermath of the 13th general election, following several issues and statements touching on race which surfaced in public.
The council has been tasked with formulating a National Unity Blueprint in two years, but had said it will produce an interim report in six months.
"We are determined to see this through and are committed to coming up with the blueprint," he added.
Samsudin said Malaysians, in general, were peace-loving people, noting that there were hardly any problems in the past.
"We have been here (in Malaysia) together for many years and there were no desecration of places of worship and others.
"So, we want to promote acts that show we are indeed peace-loving.”
Perkasa had previously called the NUCC a "threat to national unity" when it accused the council of questioning Malay rulers.
Perkasa secretary-general Syed Hassan Syed Ali had said the NUCC was provoking Muslim anger by questioning the raid by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) at the Bible Society of Malaysia’s office in early January.
"When the NUCC questioned the Jais raid on the Bible Society of Malaysia, they were challenging the authority of the Malay rulers," he said.
Syed Hassan also cast doubts on NUCC's credibility, saying the council was more interested in fighting for the rights of the minority than the majority.
"The NUCC does not represent Muslims in Malaysia nor are they qualified to comment on issues concerning Islam.”
This came after the NUCC condemned the January 2 raid, in which some 300 copies of the Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia and Iban were confiscated, and described it a "blatant disregard" of Putrajaya's 10-point solution.
After its inaugural meeting on January 6, Samsudin had said that Putrajaya should respond to challenges of national unity with a greater sense of urgency.
"We are also calling on leaders from all political parties to ensure such acts are not repeated in order to eliminate religious or racial tension."
NUCC member Lim Chee Wee said Perkasa's comments were "unfair", and said the council's effectiveness would be seen in its statements, reports and its acceptance by the public.
"The allegations by Perkasa against members of NUCC are unfair and underlying their comment is that any and every one would have views on many issues including race, religion, rulers and unity.
"I am confident that members of NUCC can decide and act in the best interests of our nation, which at the moment is harmed by extremists whose voices appear to be louder in the public sphere," the former Bar Council president said. – February 20, 2014.
~ The Malaysian Insider

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