‘Explain inaction on provocation’

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KUALA LUMPUR: Ahead of its peaceful walk to protest the Sedition Act today, the Malaysian Bar has a list of at least a dozen cases of provocative racial and religious remarks since 2012, and wants the police and Attorney-General to explain the status of each to the public. The list of cases was appended in a document when the Bar passed a resolution at its extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on Sept 19 that the Sedition Act should be repealed and a protest march be held.

Its president Christopher Leong said it was not for de facto Law Minister Datuk Nancy Shukri to speak of these matters that are the responsibility of these agencies. “It is for the police to explain their non-action and the Attorney-General’s Chambers on why it refused to prosecute certain cases,” Leong told The Malaysian Insider.

He was responding to a barrage of criticism against Nancy, who last week replied on behalf of the public prosecutor that no charges would be framed against Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali for his statement last year that Malay-language Bibles should be burnt.

In a written reply to Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng on Oct 7, Nancy said Ibrahim’s remark was made in defence of Islam as the constitution provided for the state and federal laws to control and restrict the propagation of other religions to Muslims. Leong said police investigations and prosecution are not under her purview.

The notable cases on the Bar’s list  include that of controversial lecturer Ridhuan Tee Abdullah and former Perkasa vice-president Datuk Zulkifli Noordin for allegedly disparaging the Hindu religion and insulting adherents of the faith in February and March last year. Ridhuan allegedly made inflammatory remarks in an article “Kesabaran Umat Islam ada had” (There is a limit to the patience of Muslims) on Feb 18 last year.

Police reports were filed after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the result of the 2013 general election were due to a “Chinese tsunami” on May 6 last year, and also after Utusan Malaysia published a front-page article entitled “Apa lagi orang Cina mahu?” (What more do the Chinese want?) the following day.

The document presented at the Bar EGM questioned the status of reports made against retired Court of Appeal judge Datuk Mohd Noor Abdullah for allegedly accusing an ethnic group of treason and then warning of retribution by another ethnic group on May 22 last year. It also asked about the status of investigations against retired chief justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohammad for allegedly stating in early September that only Malays truly fought for independence while the other races were consumed by self-interest.

The Sedition Act has been used against several politicians from Pakatan Rakyat, student activists, lawyers and even academicians who have been hauled up by the police since August, either for investigation or prosecution.

Leong said the Sedition Act is a bad and unjust law and must be repealed because it criminalises speech and expression of thought. “Our experience and history have shown that the repealed Internal Security Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act were abused.”

He said  others are spreading false information that those who want the Sedition Act repealed also want to remove provisions that protect the position of Islam, the Malays and the Rulers.

The Bar will hold a peaceful walk in protest against the Sedition Act today from Padang Merbok to Parliament. Leong said at the end of the walk, the lawyers will present relevant documents to the prime minister or his representative. He said the Bar had given notice under the Peaceful Assembly Act to the police. — The Malaysian Insider

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 16, 2014.