New Mandala readers in Canberra interested in Malaysia will not want to miss this seminar. It discusses UMNO’s links to this shadowy group called PEKIDA. With the increase in political violence since the 2008 general elections perpetrated by UMNO supporters, understanding PEKIDA is important in understanding “democracy ala UMNO” in Malaysia.

The details of the seminar follow below the fold:

Speaker/Host: Sophie Lemière
Venue: PSC Reading Room, 4.27 Level 4 Hedley Bull Building, ANU
Date: Tuesday, 10 April 2012
Time: 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM
Enquiries: Greg Fealy on 6125 2302


In December 2011, Najib Tun Razak, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, attended the annual meeting of the most controversial Malay organisation in Malaysia: The Association of Islamic Welfare and Dakwah of Malaysia (or Pertubuhan Kebajikan dan Dakwah Islamiyah SeMalaysia or PEKIDA). In exchange for Pekida’s political support, Najib promised governmental aid. The opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, strongly criticised the move, saying Najib was backing an ‘ethno-fascist organisation’. Pekida emerged in the Malaysian conscience several years ago and is often portrayed as a Malay mafia, UMNO’s militia and an ethnonationalist group. Pekida creates fear, suspicion or denial within Malaysian society: everyone knows about its reputation but no one knows what exactly Pekida is. The popular myth surrounding Pekida is that it is an umbrella for several sub-groups, spread throughout the country, and that it has the support of high profile UMNO politicians and businessmen, and that Pekida is allegedly involved in criminal activities. This original in-depth study is based on the narratives of Pekida members and follows the internal and external discourses surrounding the organisation in order to go beyond “the legend”. This research reveals the mechanisms of influence of an unseen political force in Malaysia and the use of the myth as an extension of political power.