Zam, are you “Malaysian first, Malay second” or “Malay first, Malaysian second”?

Former information minister Datuk Zainuddin Maidin wondered in his blog what if the roles were reversed in the case of a Malay woman threatening an elderly Chinese man with a steering wheel lock following an accident, how would the “Chinese press, Chinese social media, Chinese parties and Chinese NGOs reacted if the person punished was a Chinese”.

He asked: “Wouldn’t they have considered the punishment to be racist since it was a small case?” he asked in his blog posting.

Zainuddin was commenting on the Kuantan Magistrate’s Court decision to fine Siti Fairah Asyikin Kamaruddin, also known as Kiki, RM5,000 and ordering her to engage in 240 hours of community service.

Kiki landed in trouble after a video of her threatening the senior citizen Sim Siak Heong went viral online.

It is shocking and the height of irresponsibility for a former Cabinet Minister to frame an issue on law-breaking through such racial and even racist lens.

Even more reprehensible and deplorable is his dismissal of “Chinese press, Chinese social media, Chinese parties and Chinese NGOs” as communal organisations utterly bereft of Malaysian nationalism or patriotism.

Zainuddin should first answer whether he is “Malaysian first, Malay second” or “Malay first, Malaysian second”, for it is only when he regards himself as in the former category that it is worthwhile, useful and productive to engage in any discussion with him pertaining to any subject whether concerning nation-building or fostering harmonious and congenial inter-racial and inter-religious relations in our plural nation.

From the standpoint of being Malaysian first, and race, religion or region second, the answer to the question “What if Kiki was Chinese” is a simple and straightforward one, as the question of race is utterly irrelevant as Article 8(1) of the Federal Constitution confers the constitutional guarantee of equality before the law to all Malaysians, providing that “All persons are equal before the law and entitled to equal protection of the law”.

Whether “Kiki” is Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan or Iban, she must face the consequences of the law for any infringement, as she found out after her inexcusable “road rage” causing damage to the car belonging to Sim Siak Hong, 61, in front of the Urban Transformation Centre in Kuantan on July 14, striking the bonnet roof and windows of Sim’s car with a steering lock, causing him to suffer a loss of RM500.

Zainuddin commended the authorities for bringing the matter to court and also agreed with the sentence meted out.

As a Malaysian first, Chinese second, this is where I disagree with Zainuddin. Yes, the authorities are to be commended for bringing the matter to court, but No, I do not agree with the sentence which I feel is on the heavy side.

She was charged under Section 427 of the Penal Code for committing mischief, which carries a maximum jail term of two years, a fine, or both, upon conviction. She was fined RM5,000 and ordered to perform 240 hours of community service.

I feel Kiki had been punished enough. She had expressed regret and remorse for what she had done. Sim had forgiven him. She was the subject of universal scorn and condemnation in the social media – a punishment never envisaged when the Penal Code was drafted in the last century, which was pre-Internet era and before the advent of the social media. She underwent the “trial of the social media” which should have been taken into account, which is why I think the RM5,000 fine is on the high side.

DAP is prepared to provide free legal service to Kiki if she wants to appeal against the RM5,000 fine and the DAP MP for Puchong, Gobind Singh Deo has confirmed that the DAP Legal Bureau headed by him is prepared to render such a service.

As a former Cabinet Minister, Zainuddin should have set a better example to unite instead of dividing Malaysians.

I had lamented that Malaysians are only united in grief and sorrow when there are disasters or catastrophes like the two recent air disasters in five months – the MH370 and MH 17 disasters which claimed 537 lives – but not during ordinary times and I had urged Malaysians to speak the language of unity, moderation, tolerance and justice and not the language of division, extremism, hatred and injustice.

Can Zainuddin change his mindset to set an example to speak the language of unity, moderation, tolerance and justice instead of harping on the rhetorics of division, extremism, hatred and injustice?

Zainuddin wants “lightning-quick action” from the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar against me under the Sedition Act for my statement that Teoh Beng Hock (TBH) had been murdered and that the killers are still at large.

Zainuddin has no views or position about the infamous double standards and notorious selectivity of the police with regard to the crescendo of seditious utterances and threats by extremist individuals and NGOs inciting racial and religious hatred, tension and conflict in the past 14 months.

If I had attacked individual Barisan Nasional leaders and accused them of causing the May 13 riots in 1969, I would have immediately, and rightly, been arrested and charged in court on a variety of offences for such an irresponsible conduct. But Zainuddin is quite happy and comfortable with the police double standards with false accusations against me that I was the cause of the May 13 riots in Kuala Lumpur when I was not even in Kuala Lumpur during the May 13 riots in 1969 – with no action taken by the authorities against such malice and hatred!

Again, if any DAP leader had threatened May 13 riots in the country, he or she would have to face the full weight of the law – and rightly so, because all Malaysians cherish peace, harmony and unity in our multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural nation. But Zainuddin is quite happy that no action is being taken by the police or authorities although May 13 threats had been openly made at least three times this year by racial and religious extremists and chauvinists.

I invite Zainuddin to join me to foreswear the language of division, extremism, hatred and injustice and to embrace the language of unity, moderation, tolerance and justice to build a united, democratic, just and prosperous Malaysia for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah