Bloggers Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee are now being charged for publishing a ‘seditious’ photograph on Facebook of themselves eating bak kut teh with a Ramadan greeting and posting content that could possibly stir religious hostility.
People who hadn’t heard of this couple before have also learned that they had also published obscene photographs of themselves in their blog – which has led to another charge against them, even though at the time of the posting of these photographs, no action was deemed necessary. If action had been taken then, it would not have led to this second escapade.
Their stupid and insensitive behaviour has been rightly condemned by both Muslims and others. The couple promptly published an apology as soon as the furore erupted. Whether they are genuinely contrite or not, these recent developments have given them much publicity and attention – even if it is not the kind they might have been seeking.
Unfortunately, the response from certain quarters went overboard, particularly the prosecutor’s insistence that the couple be denied bail and sent to jail while waiting for trial – in stark contrast to other cases of a serious nature where bail was allowed. They were only allowed bail today, eight days after they were jailed – and the injustice of it all was glaring.
While not condoning what the couple have done, we are appalled at the disproportionate response from some quarters – especially since the couple had apologised.
Considering that so many others who have denigrated other faiths – like Perkasa leader Ibrahim Ali who threatened to burn Bibles and Zulkifli Noordin who belittled Hinduism, for example – have not been charged for their belligerence, disrespect and utter lack of sensitivity, the guardians of our law have acted most unjustly and inconsistently. We note that Zulkifli apologised and no action was taken; his hurtful words were not held against him and he was fielded as a candidate for the general election – to the indignation of many.
In the spirit of the holy month of Ramadan, we call upon all Malaysians especially those in power, to show compassion and forgiveness to this misguided couple as well as Ibrahim and Zulkifli and all others who have knowingly or unknowingly hurt the feelings of their fellow Malaysians, regardless of race and religion.
Let us learn to accept our plural society as Allah’s gift. We should therefore learn to celebrate our differences and continue to live in and peace harmony. In the final analysis, we are all God’s children after all.
Aliran executive committee
25 July 2013