Perkasa recruits Rela members, claims existence of special Rela brigade

Perkasa has moved to take a wider role in its political struggle by forming a subgroup within The People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) that is exclusively for its members.

Perkasa coordinator, Zainuddin Salleh, revealed to Komunitikini that a Rela subgroup called “Briged Setia Negara” had been established by Selangor Perkasa chief, Abdullah Mansor, in December last year.

“Approval was granted by the Home Ministry in December last year for the establishment of the brigade,” claimed Zainuddin. “The brigade is formed exclusively for Selangor Perkasa members.”

He said those who join Perkasa will be offered the option to enrol in Briged Setia Negara.

A screenshot of Selangor Perkasa website shows that the brigade was announced to its members at a recent event

The brigade, according to him, is no different to Rela’s other units except in its membership condition.

“The uniform and duties given are still the same,” he added.

Asked if an Umno member who is not Perkasa member is allowed to join the brigade, Zainuddin said such a person should join Rela directly.

A check on the Selangor Perkasa website confirmed that Perkasa has conducted a briefing on the said brigade during a recent event, with Perkasa’s Abdullah dressed in Rela uniform.

Komunitikini understands that Abdullah Mansor is a lieutenant in Rela.

Subang Jaya assemblywoman, Hannah Yeoh, had also spotted a Perkasa recruitment banner (below) where members of the public intending to join either Perkasa or Rela are given the numbers of Perkasa members to call.

Since it was established in 1972, the Rela volunteer corps has grown to 2.1 million members and aims to add 400,000 more by the end of this year. Rela has courted controversy in recent years for its involvement in detaining migrant workers.

Of late, Deputy Home Minister Lee Chee Leong and Rela’s director-general, Zaidon Asmuni have called on non-Malays to join Rela so that the organisation can reflect the country’s plural and multiracial communities.

Lee, when contacted, said he was not aware of the existence of a Perkasa brigade in Rela.

Rela DG: no such thing

Zaidon, on the other hand, dismissed the possibility of “Briged Setia Negara” existing in Rela.

“All Rela members are known as ordinary Rela members except the Briged Orang Asli … we have never given special preference to any NGO, including Perkasa,” he told Komunitikini, in a text message.

When asked whether the Home Ministry had approved of the setting up of such a unit in Rela,  Zaidon clarified in a later text message that “Brigade Setia Negara exists in Perkasa but not in Rela.”

He said Rela did not segregate members based on certain criteria, but that it is “fine” for Perkasa to recruit members on behalf of Rela.

“Anyone can enrol (as a new Rela member) or help us to enrol new members, so long as he is a Malaysian citizen aged 16 or above.

“Even MIC or MCA can help us to recruit new members, there is no issue,” he added.

Zaidon did not think Perkasa’s hardline political background would tarnish what he describes as Rela’s multiracial image, but he encourages those who want to be Rela members to apply directly via the Rela website, http://irela.moha.gov.my/.