Regina Lee (Malaysiakini)
PAS leaders have slammed plans by a non-governmental organisation to hold a mammoth rally in Terengganu to ‘awaken the Malay race’ on May 13 and called for its cancellation.
PAS vice-president Salahuddin Ayub and secretary-general Mustafa Ali described the event – timed to coincide with the 41st anniversary of the worst racial riots to occur in the country – “dangerous”, “insensitive” and “bordering on extremism”.
“We are taking serious steps (on this) so that the public is aware and told that (the organizing group) are dangerous, and that the people should stay away from them,” Salahuddin told a press conference at PAS headquarters in Kuala Lumpur today.
Malay daily Utusan Malaysia reported yesterday that the organiser, Malay rights NGO Gerakan Kebangkitan Rakyat (Gertak, which means ‘scare’ in Malay), is targeting the participation of 10,000 people and the involvement of about 45 Malay groups in the rally.
The gathering set for Thursday is slated to be held in the Gong Badak Indoor Stadium in Kuala Terengganu, with former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad scheduled to give the keynote address.
NONESalahuddin (left) also questioned the stand of the Integrity Institute of Terengganu after it was reported that the gathering was organised “in cooperation” with the state government body.
“If the report really is true, I hope that the Integrity Institute of Malaysia (IIM) will take the appropriate measures at stopping it.
“If not, it just shows that IIM can be used and taken advantage of by these extremist groups,” charged Salahuddin.
Mustafa, meanwhile, slammed Mahathir for agreeing to be participate in the gathering.
“He had said it many times, that the May 13th incident was a black spot and that it was a dangerous time.
“Why does he want to resurrect the ghost of the May 13th incident now?” asked Mustafa, who added that it was unbecoming for a distinguished statesman like Mahathir grace the event.
Both Salahuddin and Mustafa accused Umno of backing Gertak and attempting to stoke racial tensions.
“Of course,” said Mustafa when asked if he thought Umno is behind the rally.
“Ini budak Umno (This is an Umno boy),” he said about Gertak president Razali Idris. Razali is Umno’s Marang division deputy chairperson.
Salahuddin said this shows Umno is 30 years behind and that its party members are narrow-minded.
“It is about time that Malaysians see the dirty work of Umno,” he said.
Salahuddin also warned the media not to misconstrue PAS message or misquote him and Mustafa on the matter.
“We are not questioning Malay rights. This press conference is not about slamming affirmative action for the bumiputeras. It is about the timing and the purpose of this rally,” said Salahuddin.
When contacted, Integrity Institute of Malaysia (IIM) president Tap Salleh acknowledged recieving an invitation to the gathering, but denied the involvement of the government body as an organiser.
“We have only received an invitation, and from what I was told, it was meant to be a forum. I am not going anyway, I have other plans,” he said.
He also said that the gathering was not sanctioned by IIM since the IIT is a separate entity and comes under the purview of the state government, while IIM is a federal body.
Kuala Terengganu district police chief ACP Zamri Shamsuddin, meanwhile, told Malaysiakini that the police would monitor the event and “move in” if the crowd exceeded the stadium capacity.
He added, however, that the rally organisers would not need to apply for a police permit to hold the event.
“Since it is held indoors, and unless there is a spillover of more than 20 spectators outside, a letter of notification would suffice,” said Zamri.
Entitled “Melayu Bangkit” (Malays Rise), the gathering is said to aim at uniting Malays and instilling an awareness of their rights as Malays.
The rally organisers were also reported to have said that the May 13 date was chosen to “remind” the Malays of the bloody incident.