KUALA LUMPUR – Sept 18, 2015: The Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu (HRB) rally which was held on Wednesday has given Umno the upper hand against its political rivals and critics, say analysts.
The rally had attracted almost 30,000 rally-goers by the police’s estimation while the organiser claimed that there were more than 250,000 participants.
Head of the National Council of Professors’ political, security and international affairs cluster Prof Datuk Dr Mohamed Mustafa Ishak said HRB had boosted Umno and Barisan Nasional’s image and restored the party members’ confidence.
“There were people who were willing to assemble in showing support for the ruling party which proved that Umno and BN are still relevant in the local political scene.
“The success of the rally should be a lesson for the oppositions that they should never underestimate the power of the silent majority,” he said.
Commenting on criticisms against the rally which was deemed as ‘racial-motivated’, Mustafa said that race-based politics has always been the nature of Malaysia’s political system.
He added that racial polarisation is inevitable as it has been around since Malaysia was founded.
“Racial polarisation is something that we cannot help due to the extensive amount of divides we are having especially in term of the economic dominance and education system.
“For instance, the Top-20 household in the country at the moment is mostly inhabited by the Chinese whereas most Malays and Bumiputeras are struggling in the Bottom-20 household,” he said.
Despite the expected split between races especially on economic footing, Mustafa urged the government to look into the matter and reduce the widening gap to restore racial balance.
The HRB rally that was held at Padang Merbok was in response to Bersih 4.0 rally which was critical of Umno and BN’s government.
The rally that was previously dubbed as Himpunan Maruah Melayu was organised by National Silat Association (Pesaka).
HRB had received an overwhelming support from over 200 non-governmental organisations including the Organisation of Islamic Welfare and Dakwah of Malaysia (Pekida), Persatuan Pribumi Perkasa (Perkasa) and the Federation of Malaysian National Writers Associations (Gapena).
Among prominent politicians who attended the rally were Umno information chief Datuk Ahmad Maslan, Umno supreme council member Tan Sri Annuar Musa and Selangor Umno chief Datuk Seri Noh Omar.
Sharing the same opinion as Mustafa was Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia lecturer Associate Prof Samsul Adabi Mamat who told The Mole that the HRB rally had given the people an impression that Umno is gaining ground against the opposition.
“Umno is seen to gain back its political momentum as its support for Malay solidarity was well accepted by a large portion of Malays including by several Pas members who also attended the rally.
“I would not say that the assembly had totally heightened up Umno’s reputation but I do think that it had given the party some political dividend to prove its relevance in the country,” he said.
Samsul however denied that HRB had driven the racial polarisation further apart as he considered the rally was the Malays’ warning to the opposition parties rather than to any race.
Meanwhile, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia lecturer Dr Mazlan Ali was of the opinion that Umno had ‘won some and lost some’ after the HRB rally concluded.
He said that even though the rally had proven the Malays’ support for Umno is strong, BN on the other hand would lose the support from the majority of non-Malays and Malays in the urban areas.
“The rally has actually given the opposition the upper hand over Umno. Those who have any political sense would see that HRB is a representation of what racism is.
“The rally had put more strain on the racial relationship between Malays and non-Malays, which could eventually lead to a serious racial hatred,” he added.
Mazlan further opined that the rally was an Umno’s myopic movement that was exclusive to other races and that it would only provoke racial tension.