Call on Najib to announce a “zero tolerance” policy for any threat to burn any holy books of any religion in Malaysia to be a role model of moderation for other countries as part of his Global Movement of Moderates campaign

The explanation by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) on Monday on why the Attortney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail has not prosecuted the Perkasa President Ibrahim Ali for his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible has added salt to the wound, as it failed not only to win over doubters but have been received with scorn and rejected outright by majority of the critics.

What is worse, it reinforced the perception that the AGC’s arguments that Ibrahim Ali should enjoy immunity and impunity from legal sanctions because he was defending the sanctity of Islam and was protected by Article 11(4) of the Constitution were not only shallow, superficial and cock-eyed but reflects a Public Prosecutor who has failed in his duties to be a responsible and trustworthy upholder of the rule of law and the protector of inter-racial and inter-religious unity and harmony in a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation.

The Monday statement from the AGC said Ibrahim had made the threat of burning the Bible “in the context of an incident in Jelutong, Penang, where copies of the Bible were distributed to members of the public, including Muslims” and “After the context had been studied as a whole, Ibrahim Ali’s statement does not fall into the category of having seditious tendencies”.

Does this mean that there are certain “context” where it is fully permissible to threaten the burning of the Bible?

Furthermore, are there also certain “contexts” where it is permissible to threaten the burning of holy books of other religions, for instance, Tripitaka for Buddhism, Vedas for Hinduism, Torah for Judaism, Guru Granth Sahib for Sikhism and Tao Te Ching for Taoism?

Are there also “contextual” justifications to justify the threat to burn the Holy Quran?

Surely not, there can be no justification in any context to justify the threat to burn any holy book of any religion in multi-religious Malaysia if we want to maintain inter-religious understanding, harmony and peace and to quote Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, to go beyond just “tolerate” but to “accept” and even celebrate Malaysia’s multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural diversity.

Many thinking Malaysians find most appalling and even obnoxious the AGC’s argument that Ibrahim’s threat also does not fall within the purview of Section 504, Section 298 and Section 298A of the Penal Code as he was defending Islam.

Section 504 is on intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of peace, Section 298 is on uttering words with deliberate intent to wound religious feelings and Section 298A is on causing disharmony, disunity, enmity, hatred or ill-will.

Is the AGC now contending that one is permitted to commit the offences under Section 506, Section 298 and Section 298A of the Penal Code, or escape any criminal liability when doing so, provided one is “defending Islam”?

What about defending the other religions, viz Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, Taoism in the country?

These questions show how ridiculous and outrageous are the justifications that there are certain “contexts” where it is not an offence to issue a threat to burn the Bible, to wound religious feelings or to cause inter-religious hatred!

Just as there should be zero tolerance for corruption, there should be zero tolerance for any threat to burn the holy books of any religion in Malaysia.

Or does the AGC also hold the view that there are certain contexts where corruption is not an offence?

Having reiterated his call for a Global Movement of Moderates thrice in four years in his three speeches at the United Nations General Assembly, and even securing the highest-ever 187 votes in Malaysia’s recent election as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council on the basis of Malaysia’s commitment to moderation to marginalize extremism, I call on the Prime Minister Najib to announce a zero tolerance policy in Malaysia for any threat to burn any holy books of any religion so as to be a role model of moderation for other countries.

Najib should also announce that he will ensure that he will have an Attorney-General who is committed to his Global Movement of Moderates initiative, and is prepared to remove Tan Sri Gani Patail as Attorney-General if Gani refuses to adopt the Prime Minister’s Global Movement of Moderates initiative as the guiding policy for all his prosecution decisions – although the sole discretionary power on individual prosecutions is vested in the AG as stipulated by Article 145(3) of the Constitution.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah