- Category: Helen Ang
- Published: Thursday, 07 July 2011 05:53
- Written by Helen Ang
Chan Lilian, a Penang chief minister media department staff, wrote in her Twitter account on June 29: “i think all Christians shud march for all the persecution they had done to us and our Lord”.
Blog House Malaysia secretary Tony Yew made a police report so that the authorities could “charge [Lilian] for seditious statements, and use her as an example to others that we cannot take National Unity for granted”.
Tony posted in his blog on July 1: “As long as there are those out there who think they can get away with this, then we must all be vigilant in safeguarding this nation we all love. To incite and divide is hardly an act of allegiance to Malaysia!”
He told reporters that Lilian’s tweet was intentionally seditious and “dangerous considering the recent development related to this coming 9 July”.
Lilian – the “official video-journalist of Lim Guan Eng” – subsequently clarified in her blog that when referring to those responsible for persecuting Christians and Jesus, she “did not mean the government”.
In her July 3 posting, Lilian denied she had ever implied that all Christians should march with Bersih. Instead, she said her tweet was merely a “lamentation” or wailing which should be understood in a biblical sense. The word ‘march’, insisted Lilian, is not to be understood either in its most obvious definition but “in a Christian way means to be brave and not cower, to stand for justice and rights …”.
Lilian denied also that she was “a Bersih advocator”. She explained that since she did not pin a yellow badge on her avatar or “repeatedly asked everyone to join” the gathering, she is innocent of Tony’s charge. In fact, she termed him a “screwed up guy” and his allegation that she had mixed religion with politics to be a “screwed idea”.
Although I don’t buy Lilian’s flat out denials and disagree with her language used on Tony, but nonetheless you’d still have thought that her tweet should be rightly dismissed as a tempest in a teacup. But no. It seems that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, after reading in the papers (or perhaps in the Umno blogs that had gone to town with the story) about Tony’s police report, decided on its own initiative to further pursue the matter.
The government apparently takes a most serious view when it is someone from the opposition camp that’s said to be “dangerous”, “inciting” and threatening “national unity”. But how about when it concerns someone on the pro-establishment side of the fence?
Inciting anti-Bersih sentiments
Now let’s take the Ridhuan Tee article of July 4.
Ridhuan is best known for his Utusan columns but his most recent effort ‘Program Bersih dalam kotor!’ saw print in Sinar Harian where he is now the Malay daily’s columnist. In his newspaper article, Ridhuan wrote that Bersih is only seeking political profit and should be left to the police and the army to deal with.
Meanwhile in Ridhuan’s blog is posted a lengthier and unedited version of the same write-up where as usual he took it upon himself to speak for the Malay polity in using the word ‘kita’ (we Muslims). A prolific ideologue, Ridhuan revealed that he had only just earlier participated in TV1’s ‘Bicara Rakyat’ live telecast on the topic of street demonstrations.
In his posting ‘Bersih dalam kotor!’, Ridhuan warned Malays and Muslims against being exploited and divided. He wrote that there are many “kafir harbi” (belligerent infidels) out there just waiting for the chance to provoke and set Malays against each other. He characterised the Bersih group as opportunists who are always ready to take advantage of the situation in order to spark quarrels among Malay-Muslims.
Without directly mentioning Ambiga Sreenevasan by name (as per his well-known wormtongue style of preferring sly insinuation), Ridhuan wrote that “the Bersih leader” prominently displayed an anti-Islam attitude when chairing the Bar Council previously.
Again without mentioning Ambiga by name, Ridhuan wrote (my translation): “What is the interest of an NGO in the electoral roll if not to get publicity? She only wants to get publicity so that she can stand in the next general election. This opportunity is just being used by her to popularise herself.”
He cautioned: “The latest developments have convinced me as to why this ultra kiasu group cannot be trusted and should be rejected” and how Bersih must not be led by “this ultra kiasu” individual who had previously held Islam in contempt and trampled on the religion (“menghina dan menginjak-injak Islam” / “Lina murtad Lina Joy dan penghinaan terhadap mahkamah syariah masih terngiang-ngiang di telinga”).
Expanding on his favourite trope of ‘ultra kiasu’ machinations, Ridhuan wrote that Bersih was a thorn in the flesh and a fifth column ready to capitalize on any opportunity but whose supporters would not dare to show their faces on July 9 if ‘we’ (Ridhuan speaking as a Muslim; alluding to the PAS/PKR grassroots) were not alongside ‘them’ – the ultra kiasus – at the rally.
He warned against letting these “orang lain” (non-Muslims) become too powerful because ‘they’ have so many cohorts waiting in the wings – presumably relatives in China and India – who are simply waiting to come into “our” territory.
Who are the real instigators?
Compared to Lilian, it is clear that Ridhuan is mixing religion and politics with far greater fervour. And looking at the one-sided crackdown over the past week, it is similarly evident that unlike Lilian, Ridhuan will indeed be allowed to get away with instigating Muslims.
More tellingly, Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali is able to make veiled threats of May 13 with the police doing nothing whereas the Parti Sosialis Malaysia activists are thrown in lock-up on the ludicrous charge of ‘waging war against the King’.
An even more incredible charge is that PSM is trying to revive communism. Obviously, the story is trumped up to create unease among the Malays (never mind that the last remnants of the communist insurgency are today geriatrics who have long retired).
Police raided the PSM office in Jelapang to try and obtain fresh evidence so as to bolster their basis for a case against the PSM members. Instead of having evidence in hand first and consequently making any arrests, here our Polis Di-Raja Malaysia puts the cart before the horse by kasi tangkap dulu and only then start searching premises to gather enough evidence.
A news portal reported that police took along PSM deputy chairman M. Saraswathy in handcuffs for the raid, and tried to break into the Jelapang office.
Saras is a courageous woman who belongs to a legitimate and well-respected political organization committed to enfranchising the poor and marginalised. It was most painful to see the 58-year-old handcuffed like a common criminal. Among the other PSM activists arrested initially on June 25 who face the possibility of three to five year jail sentences for possession of ‘illegal’ and ‘subversive’ material (according to police evaluation) are 60-year-old Cheang Sew Yin, two 64-year-olds R. Saroza and R. Nalayani as well as a teenaged duo.
If the core PSM people remain under the Emergency Ordinance detention order, and at the same time Ibrahim and Ridhuan continue their demagoguery with impunity, there will be severely negative repercussions for the Najib administration extending beyond July 9.
Prime Minister Najib Razak was quoted rueing last month that “Politics is all about perception. Not the question of reality... the opposition knows how to play up perception and deny what is the truth.” Unless the six EO detainees are freed immediately, and charges against the rest of the PSM activists dropped unconditionally, the PM would not only have lost the perception war but risks delegitimizing his government in the eyes of the public. The world is watching.