Najib buckles under pressure to renounce the repeal of Sedition Act and becomes hostage to rightists and extremists who are opposed to policy of moderation and GMM

Although the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s buckling under pressure to renounce the repeal of the Sedition Act, which he had promised two years ago in July 2012, has not come as a total surprise to Malaysians, it is nonetheless heart-rending to see the sixth Prime Minister succumbing to threats by rightists and extremists in UMNO and UMNO-sponsored NGOs and becoming a hostage to elements which are opposed to the policy of moderation and the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM).

Now I understand why the sudden urgency for the Prime Minister to table a White Paper and move a motion in Parliament to condemn Islamic State yesterday – which was made without any advance notice to MPs as the decision was apparently made only on Monday night: – i.e. to camouflage Najib’s betrayal of the cause of wasatiyyah and his initiative of the Global Movement of Moderates, which had been the subject of his three speeches to the United Nations General Assembly since Sept. 2010, when he delivered his UMNO Presidential Address this morning.

The rightists, extremists and the opponents of the campaign of wasatiyyah have cause to celebrate, for they have made it very clear that they will be drawing the line in the sand at the 68th UMNO General Assembly whether to tolerate or topple Najib as Prime Minister and UMNO President before his terms were up.

An ex-UMNO Minister did not mince his words when he warned a fortnight ago that Najib’s days were numbered if he continued to disappoint the rightists and extremists, hinting at “another candidate” already waiting on the sidelines and ready to pounce on Najib should the unacceptable happen.

Another riddle was also resolved at the opening of the UMNO General Assembly this morning. – the screening of slides of the bloody May 13 race riots, purportedly as a reminder to UMNO of the importance of national unity and the dangers of discord among the Malays, which confirmed UMNO’s role and motive in producing the UMNO May 13 bogey film “Tanda Putera” at the cost of RM5 million public money in the run-up to the 13th General Elections in May last year.

The UMNO General Assemblies have confirmed the worst fears – that instead of becoming more inclusive and less exclusive after 57 years governing Malaysia through six UMNO Prime Ministers, UMNO leaders and delegates have become more exclusive and less exclusive.

Oxford University-educated UMNO Youth leader, Khairy Jamaluddin revealed his worries that UMNO is fighting a lost cause in the battle for the hearts and minds of “Gen Y” when he lamented that Malay youths were joining DAP and tried to hide his fears by dismissing the DAP as a “chauvinist party”, not realising that what he said is in fact a testimony that the DAP is becoming more inclusive and less exclusive party in contrast to UMNO and UMNO Youth undergoing the passage of becoming a more exclusive and less inclusive party.

In fact, when in his closing speech, Khairy said the Malays are under siege and the time for patience is over, would he have also approved the MCA Youth Chief declaring that the Chinese are under siege and that the time for patience is over or the MIC Youth Chief saying that the Indians are under siege and that the time for patience is over?

It is quite obvious who is being exposed as being truly chauvinist, racialist and being more exclusive and less inclusive in the sixth decade of nation-building.

But the dishonour of being the most irresponsible in fostering the politics of intolerance, bigotry and hatred in the UMNO General Assemblies so far must go to the Kedah representative at the Wanita UMNO general assembly and former deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Mashitah Ibrahim who succeeded in arousing the UMNO Wanita delegates with her provocative speech alleging that the Chinese (community) in Kedah burned the Quran page by page during a prayer ritual.

The Malaysiakini report by reporter Abdul Rahman Sabri noted:

“Do you feel challenged? Sensitive? Sad? Frustrated?” she asked, prompting delegates to respond in the affirmative.

“If you feel that way, why not voice out? Don’t be quiet. Where is our voice in the media, in cyberspace? Don’t be the silent majority. (Don’t allow) the minority to talk.

“The position of Islam and the rights of Muslims are being challenged. After 57 years of independence, why is this happening?

“Is it to divide (us) or the political gimmick of certain quarters, or the revolution of ICT (information, communication and technology) or is the Islamic agenda envied in Malaysia?” she asked.

Therefore, Mashitah, who was attached with the Prime Minister’s Department, said Wanita Umno delegates and Muslims should not be the “silent majority” when their faith is challenged.

I believe I was not the only non-Malay or non-Muslim who was shocked and outraged that there was such an incident of the Chinese (community) whether in Kedah or elsewhere burning the Quran page by page during a prayer ritual, and I fully agree that such insensitive and sacrilegious incidents deserves not only the fullest public condemnation but the full weight of the law to preserve inter-racial and inter-religious goodwill, tolerance and harmony in plural Malaysia.

But was Mashitah tell the truth, as I have not read or heard of any such outrageous incident.

Of course, there were media reports a few days ago about an incident in Alor Star where the police detained a man after pages of the Quran were found burned in a container at a food court near a market.

Kedah State police chief Zakaria Yusof had told the media that the man would be referred to the hospital for examination and treatment.

He also revealed that traders at the market often saw the man wandering in the area and burning papers near the food court.

But was Mashitah referring to this deplorable action by one man when she had blamed the Chinese community for such insensitive and sacrilegious action against the Quran,”burning page by page in a ritual prayer”.

I have contacted the two DAP Kedah State Assemblymen, Tan Kok Yew (Derga) and Teoh Boon Kok @ Teoh Kai Kok (Kota Darul Aman) and both denied that there had been any incident in Kedah of the Chinese community burning the Quran page by page during a prayer ritual, and that the particular incident of a man detained by the police after pages of the Quran were found burned in an Alor Star market happened last Thursday (20th November) and the man concerned was a Malay and not a Chinese, who had been sent to the mental hospital for examination and treatment.

I also received a copy of the statement by the Kedah Mentri Besar, Dato’ Seri Mukkhriz Tun Mahathir on 24th November on the incident, as follows:

“Saya telah menerima laporan lengkap berhubung kejadian cebisan Al-Quran yang didakwa dibakar di sebuah tokong kecil di Pasar Besar Alor Setar/Billion Supermarket, Alor Setar pada minggu lepas.

“Tiga cebisan Al-Quran itu dijumpai oleh seorang lelaki disitu pada pukul 9.20 pagi, 20 November 2014.

“Siasatan polis mendapati cebisan Al-Quran itu tidak dibakar tetapi dikoyak oleh seorang lelaki berbangsa Melayu yang tidak siuman. Lelaki itu kini ditahan di Wad Psikiatrik, Hospital Sultanah Bahiyah, Alor Star.

“Saya kesal dengan tindakan liar tiga individu yang tanpa usul periksa, telah mencederakan seorang lelaki lain, dan kes membakar beberapa buah kedai di medan selera di situ. Ingin saya tegaskan di sini bahawa ianya satu tindakan yang melanggari undang-undang.

“Saya telah mengarahkan Majlis Bandaraya Alor Setar supaya memperbaiki segera gerai-gerai yang rosak akibat perbuatan liar individu-individu berkenaan. Pihak Pejabat Penasihat Undang-Undang Negeri juga telah menyediakan dua kertas siasatan berhubung dengan dakwaan kejadian koyak Al-Quran dan kes memukul orang awam untuk diserahkan kepada Peguam Negara.

Saya berharap orang ramai tidak terpengaruh dengan khabar angin mengenai kejadian tersebut sehingga bertindak di luar batasan undang-undang.”

Is Mashitah referring to this incident by a Malay “yang tidak siuman” and blaming it on the Chinese community, or is she referring to another incident.

Mashitah and the UMNO leadership owe the whole country a proper explanation for a most irresponsible exaggeration of an incident which could provoke the most serious and dangerous consequences inimical to the preservation of inter-racial and inter-religious peace, harmony and goodwill in plural Malaysia.

The ball is in their court.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah