The Prime Minister and Home Minister are taken to task for their blatant, shameless political opportunism in allowing Muslim groups to protest at the Kampung Baru mosque over the High Court’s ruling of the usage of the word ‘Allah’ without applying for a police permit.
If we looked up the definition of ‘hypocrisy’ in the ’1Malaysia Dictionary’, one will undoubtedly find references to UMNO, in particular the statement by the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein over a public demonstration planned by Muslim groups on Friday, 8 January 2010 at the Kampung Baru mosque over the High Court’s ruling of the usage of the word ‘Allah’ by non-muslims (‘the High Court decision’).
According to Bernama and Malaysian Insider on 6 January 2010, the Home Minister announced that the Home Ministry will allow the said public demonstration to proceed. On 7 January 2010, the Home Minister backtracked and said it was up to police to handle the matter. This raises the question of whether this Minister knows what he is talking about, but let’s just pretend he does for the time being. We’re all doing it already anyway.
Then it was reported in Malaysiakini on 7 January 2010 that the Malaysians saviour a.k.a. the Prime Minister, Najib Abdul Razak said that the government cannot stop people from gathering at mosques on 8 January 2010 to protest against the High Court decision. The saviour then banked on hope, instead of his battalion of FRU trucks, police and special branch officers that used to regularly provoke, break up and brutally put down all those other non-BN gatherings, that there would be “minimal” protests tomorrow by the Islamist protesters so that tensions in the country do not escalate. The saviour has expressed a desire that the matter be ‘resolved’ through the courts, whatever that is supposed to mean.
‘Resolution’ by the saviour’s definition seems to mean an illusory win in the High Court (which will always be stayed by a Court; hence ‘illusory’) before its decision is ‘rectified’ by the Court of Appeal and then confirmed by the Federal Court. As someone who believes in human rights, freedom of assembly and free speech, I would ordinary agree with such a demonstration though I may disagree with their views. So long as the demonstration is peaceful and no animals are harmed in the process, it should be allowed to proceed even though there is no permit issued by the police for such a gathering pursuant to section 27(5) of the Police Act 1984.
However, what I find totally repulsive and unacceptable is the hypocrisy of the Prime Minister and Home Minister in giving preferential treatment to those who will be demonstrating on Friday. It is not a secret that in the past when other organizations or political parties were having peaceful demonstrations or rallies over issues which are not agreeable with the powers that be, swift and brutal action would be taken against them. Protesters would be dragged, beaten (or in some cases, ‘bitten’), kicked, humiliated and arrested in a abusive disrespectful manner before they were ‘persecuted’ in Court. In fact, often before the event the police would issue press statements that the organizers must apply for a permit failing which it would be an illegal assembly. That is why I find the hypocrisy so repulsive because the police have always stopped others from gathering; they have trucks, special branch, FRU, water cannons laced with chemicals, police officers, in short the entire machinery of state to prevent gatherings.
Let me to remind the government how they have treated Malaysians demonstrating over issues which the government found disagreeable. In 2007, we had the Bersih and Hindraf rallies. They were not given any preferential treatment. Instead, the government sent the Police Light Strike Force as the welcome party and FRU water cannons as their ‘door gift’. ‘Then, on 9 December 2007, the human rights day procession was disrupted by the usual battalion of police. Several participants (yours truly included) were arrested for merely participating in a peaceful procession to celebrate human rights and freedom of expression.
Those previous demonstrations and arrests received wide coverage. When the participants of these demonstrations were charged in Court, the ‘illustrious’ Attorney General’issimo’ a.k.a. Public ‘Persecutor’ of Malaysia himself appeared in court to proffer charges and oppose bail. We know he is a ‘small fry‘ who doesn’t have much to do but still! The whole idea was apparently to send a strong message to the public that the government of the day does not condone any form of peaceful demonstration.
Therefore, now that the Prime Minister and Home Minister now seem to give the impression that the protestors should be allowed to demonstrate, I am unable to accept the hypocrisy of the government. Just because the protest relates to Malay and/or Muslim issues, they are shameless taking advantage of this by allowing them to assemble illegally (going by the previous police reported statements) and to try and show that they identify with them on the issues. In short, blatant, shameless political opportunism.
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