The Law Minister’s attempt to justify Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali’s urging for the burning of Malay versions of the Bible with the word Allah is “rubbish”. Susan Loone reports.
Former Bar Council chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan has also rained brickbats on Law Minister Nancy Shukri.
Nancy had in a recent parliamentary reply used the federal constitution to justify Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali’s urging to burn Malay versions of the Bible with the word Allah, as it could confuse Muslims.
Ambiga said Nancy’s response was “rubbish as if we are deaf, dumb and blind” when she said Ibrahim was not charged because of Article 11 (4). It refers to preventing the propagation of other religions to Muslims.
Ambiga said this at a fundraising dinner in Penang last night, organised by the 37-year-old social reform movement, Aliran.
“I take offence because they are using our federal constitution to justify a repulsive act. What in 11(4) allows this person to say he would burn bibles? There is nothing I can assure you,” she added, to loud applause from the 500-odd dinner participants.
Nancy had also said that using the federal constitution to explain why Ibrahim was not prosecuted for his actions was fair, adding she was only repeating what the attorney-general had said.
In her parliamentary reply to Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng, Nancy stated that “In relation to the case involving Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali, the outcome of police investigation is as follows…
“His (Ibrahim Ali’s) statement was not meant to cause religious disharmony but was only meant to defend the sanctity of Islam. Therefore the case was not prosecuted”.
Nancy was criticised heavily for the statement before she went on to explain that her statement was provided by the Attorney-General’s Chambers, which is responsible for deciding on the prosecution of any case.
But Ambiga said that there is no need for “people just to repeat things in Parliament without digesting, turning it around in their minds and seeing whether it is something that can be justified in law”.
She expressed annoyance that Nancy had “insulted our intelligence” as she tried to justify her actions and it was better that Nancy told the truth “because we can see the number of people who ought to have been charged under the Sedition Act”.
Ambiga was quick to add that she does not agree to the Act at all and does not think anyone should be charged under it.
However, she pointed out to incidences where certain quarters had repeatedly threatened others with a repeat of the May 13 racial riots in 1969, while controversial individuals like academician Ridhuan Tee had insulted the Hindu religion.
She also referred to Umno-owned daily Utusan Malaysia’s screaming headlines on its front page ‘Apa lagi Cina mau?’ right after the 13th general election in May 2013 when the BN failed to regain a two-thirds majority in Parliament, for the second time since 2008.
“Yet they are completely immune because they are acting in accordance with the agenda to divide and rule. We must defy all of that,” she said.
“If this is Operasi Lalang 2, then we must all say we are not lalang,” she added, to loud claps from the floor.
She was referring to the recent police dragnet to nab, interrogate and probe close to 20 people, including opposition politicians, academicians, activists, students and Malaysiakini journalists, under the Sedition Act.
Aliran Monthly to go digital
Meanwhile, Aliran Monthly, published by the social reform movement for 33 years, will go digital on aliran.com partly due to rising production costs.
Aliran president Francis Loh said that for 37 years, the movement had challenged dominant discourses of political, social and economic development orthodoxies and attempted to be a source of alternative analysis.
“It was only after much soul-searching but also tallying the cost of production and distribution that we came to this painful decision,” said Loh.
“That said, this is also a time for celebration. It is indeed an achievement for us to have successfully produced a monthly magazine of some quality and relevance for 33 years,” he added.
At the event last night, diners were entertained by a series of performances by guitar duet The Endleaves, featuring Aliran’s Syerleena Rashid and her brother Riz, father and son team Johan Savaranamuthu and Adil, Aliran’s own singers who took digs at the BN and Pakatan governments with their medley of songs, and a dance performance titled ‘When questioning becomes a crime’ by Aida Eedza, Kat Chuah, Izzard Padzil and Hil Ramli, who are members and friends of Ombak Arts Studio, a collective of multi-ethnic artists and producers.