DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang found it simply shocking and outrageous that a former top Umno leader is the "mastermind" behind the Sept 16 anti-Bersih rally.
“Malaysians are now told by former Malacca chief minister and former Umno vice-president Ali Rustam, that his organisation, Persekutuan Silat Kebangsaan (Pesaka), is the real organiser of the Sept 16 rally to counter Bersih 4, and that it had nothing to do with red shirt 'Kebangkitan Maruah Melayu' (Raising Malay dignity), said Lim.
The DAP supremo was speaking at a dialogue with leaders of Kulai DAP branches in Kulai this morning.
He pointed out how the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Tunku Imran Ja'afar was also shocked at learning his vice president, Megat Zulkarnain Omardin, who is also Pesaka secretary-general, is at the forefront of the Sept 16 rally.
Yesterday Malay Mail Online reported Tunku Imran expressing dismay at Pesaka's involvement in the rally, being a sports organisation affiliated to the OCM.
“I am shocked ... at a loss for words actually. Sports associations should not get involved in politics,” Tunku Imran was reported saying.
“As far as I am concerned, Pesaka is a sports body affiliated to OCM. If they, or any other sports bodies, organise or participate in such gatherings, then OCM should re-look their membership," he added.
Lim said at this very fragile period of Malaysian nation-building, when there are even voices of secession from Sabah and Sarawak because of more than half-a-century of neglect and underdevelopment of these two states, the Sept 16 rally in Kuala Lumpur, will seriously undermine the unity, integrity and cause of Malaysia.
He added it should not be held as it is not only a provocation to a multiracial and multireligious Malaysia, it also threatened the unity and integrity of the Malaysian Federation formed 52 years ago.
“This is in fact the time for Malaysians to go beyond race, religion, region or politics to 'save Malaysia'. Are there enough Malaysians to save Malaysia?” he asked.
He also remarked that Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Zahid Hamidi had signed an order prohibiting the yellow Bersih 4 T-shirt as an “undesirable publication”.
“But he appears unmoved by the red 'Kebangkitan Maruah Melayu' T-shirt with what its message of racial confrontation and incitement of racial hatred and conflict,” commented Lim.
Ali Rustam yesterday finally confirmed his group was the organiser for the red shirt rally to counter the Bersih 4 rally.
While he claimed his rally was different from the 'Himpunan Maruah Melayu' first touted by red shirts spokesperson Jamal Md Yunos, the latter responded saying they were essentially referring to the same event .
"One story today, a different story yesterday - what are Malaysians to expect tomorrow?" quipped Lim in response to the confusion.
Two rallies, world of difference
Lim also said the Bersih 4 rally during Merdeka Day last month was a far cry from the upcoming Sept 16 one.
“In Bersih 4, hundreds of thousands converged to express their common dream for a Malaysia where there is good governance and clean, free, fair elections – issues which completely transcend race, religion, region, age, gender or even politics.
“Then there is Sept 16 red shirt 'Kebangkitan Maruah Melayu' rally, heavy with symbolism and threat of communal confrontation and intimidation.
"It has now been proven to be an Umno-sponsored affair with Umno divisions alerted by Umno headquarters immediately after Bersih 4 to mobilise Umno members to the rally from all over the country.”
He added there was fear and concern all over the country as to whether there would be racial clashes in the Federal capital on Malaysia Day and he had been constantly asked about this.
“After 58 years of Merdeka and 52 years of Malaysia, and six years of Najib's 1Malaysia campaign, we should be talking about 'Kebangkitan Maruah Malaysia' (Raising Malaysian dignity) and not 'Kebangkitan Maruah Melayu' against other communal groups.
“But if the Sept 16 (rally) is really genuine, then it should highlight the issues which had undermined or prejudiced 'maruah Melayu' - like the RM50 billion 1MDB scandal, the RM2.6 billion 'donation' scandal in Najib's personal bank accounts or even the 'mystery' of the Altantunya Shaariibuu murder case.
“But will they?” he asked.