KUALA LUMPUR – Sept 11, 2015: Umno divisional leaders who talked to The Mole today have refuted the allegation that the party leadership had demanded scores of its grassroots members to attend the Maruah Melayu rally next Wednesday.
Cheras Umno division chief Datuk Seri Syed Ali Syed Abbas Al-Habshee said his division did not receive any order from the party leadership to deploy its members at the rally.
“My division did not receive such an order from Federal Territory Umno but I am not sure about other state’s divisions.
“I also did not give any order for my division members to participate in the rally. Those who choose to join the rally are going on their own capacity as Malaysian, not as Umno members,” he said.
Syed Ali added that the party could not bar its members from participating in the rally as some of them are also members of non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
“We cannot stop them from participating in any activities coordinated by their organisations,” he said.
Commenting on the rally itself, Syed Ali was of the opinion that Maruah is only giving the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) the taste of its own medicine.
Bersih last week had organised its fourth street rally around Dataran Merdeka for 34 hours that caused the city main roads including Jalan Sultan Ismail, Jalan Ampang and Jalan P Ramlee to be shut down.
“Maruah’s organisers apparently wanted to show Bersih how inconvenient it can be for the public when they have such a rally.
“I do believe it would be better if the rally is held at a close venue so that it would not bother others but it is organised to counteract Bersih’s street demonstrations, so I guess it has to be done in the similar format,” he added.
Speculation over Umno’s endorsement of the rally surfaced after a circular, allegedly from Malacca state liaison chief Datuk Ab Rahaman Ab Karim made its rounds on social media.
The letter urged each Umno division to mobilise 1,000 members to the rally, with all expenses paid by the division itself.
It emerged in the cyberspace few days prior to Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s announcement that the party would not bar its members from partaking in the Maruah rally.
“However, Umno is not involved in sponsoring the rally,” said Najib after chairing the party supreme council meeting on Tuesday.
Segamat Umno division chief Zahari Sarip had also denied that the party had instructed its divisions to hop on Maruah’s bandwagon.
“Segamat division was not given any notification that demanded us to mobilise our members to the rally.
“Furthermore, Johor Umno has made its stance that we do not agree with the holding of street demonstrations,” he said.
Despite his discordance of street rallies, Zahari admitted that there is nothing wrong with a group of people wanting to exercise their freedom to assemble as constituted in the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012.
Tebrau Umno division chief Datuk Maulizan Bujang told The Mole that he too was unaware of any directive that requires the division’s attendance at the rally.
“We did not receive any information or the alleged letter that requested our presence at the rally.
“I personally would not ask any members of my division to join the rally simply because it is not an Umno event,” he said.
Maruah rally that will take place on the same day as Malaysia Day is organised by National Silat Federation (Pesaka).
The organisation of the rally aims to unite Malays and to protect the Constitution.
The rally will set off at several gathering points around Bukit Bintang at 11am before the participants march to Padang Merbok at 3pm.