Monday, June 25, 2012

Perkasa wants Singapore envoys expelled over Bersih rally

Malay rights group Perkasa today demanded that Singapore withdraw three of its diplomats accused by local right-wing groups of being involved in the April 28 Bersih rally here despite the republic denying the charge.

Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali today led 300 supporters to submit a protest note to the Singapore High Commission at Jalan Tun Razak, in a move that appeared to be from an old playbook of using the republic as a bogeyman to unite the Malays.

Umno has previously targeted Singapore to rally Malays against perceived foreign threats, with Perkasa’s focus on Singapore — despite the presence of diplomats from other countries — suggesting a strategic move given the general antipathy here towards the republic.

At this afternoon’s protest, Perkasa members sang patriotic songs and chanted slogans against Singapore and the three envoys.

Kulim Bandar Baru MP Datuk Zulkifli Noordin was also spotted at the protest that took place this afternoon.

Allegations that three Singaporean diplomats had joined the April 28 sit-in protest, seen by several Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders as a bid to topple the ruling coalition, had surfaced on several Malaysian blogs.

But the island republic’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) had last Friday said the diplomats were there as impartial observers and not participants, noting that they had even taken care not to wear the official yellow of the electoral reform movement.

“They specifically did not wear yellow to avoid being mistaken as rally participants. They were observers. They also avoided Merdeka Square (Dataran Merdeka), which had been declared out of bounds by the Malaysian authorities.

“These are legitimate duties of diplomats to observe political developments in their countries of posting,” the MFA was quoted as saying by Singapore’s The Straits Times.

An Utusan Malaysia opinion piece, “Pendedahan ini, jika benar, cukup memeranjatkan! (This revelation, if true, is shocking!)”, published on June 20 had questioned the Malaysian government’s silence over the allegations.

The Singapore High Commission in Malaysia had mirrored the MFA response in a letter to Utusan Malaysia last week.

“We do not take any actions to affiliate ourselves with any political entity (for example, in our comments or dressing). The Singapore government does not interfere in any country’s political processes,” it said in the letter posted on its website.

The Singapore High Commission last week slammed the allegations as being “patently false” and stressed that it “takes an impartial stance on all political developments in Malaysia.”

Pro-Umno blogger “mymassa” had also accused earlier this week three Singaporean envoys of holding a talk in the republic to get Singaporeans to take part in Malaysia’s upcoming 13th general election, based on a photo depicting an electoral process briefing that was allegedly taken in the Lion City recently.

The High Commission’s response in the letter was to say that “Singapore does not allow foreign citizens to engage in any activity of a political nature in Singapore. Our authorities are checking on these claims.”

Bersih Singapore had described the allegations as “ridiculous”, saying the talk was a Malaysian event, organised by Malaysians for Malaysians living abroad on their voting rights.

Last Friday, a planned protest against Singapore’s alleged interference into Malaysia’s affairs failed to garner support when not a single protester turned up outside the Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.

Perkasa secretary-general Syed Hassan Syed Ali had denied being involved in last week’s protest, which is believed to be organised by the blogger “mymassa”.

“Perkasa never planned the protest. We were never involved,” he told The Malaysian Insider when contacted.”I don’t know which group organised it.

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