Wednesday 18 May 2011

Lawyer: Public should ignore Perkasa, but not cops

As we attempt to mature as a society, we must be able to differentiate between responsible comment and idiotic statements, the Bar Council's human rights committee chairperson Andrew Khoo says.

NONEHowever, this does not mean that people who utter irresponsible statements should be able to get away with making wild accusations.

"There will always be some people who seek publicity, with no real concern about the consequences of their statements," Khoo (right) told Malaysiakini.

He was responding to Minister in the Prime Minister Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz's justification that no action can be taken against Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali for threatening violence against the Christian community.

In absolving Ibrahim for his statement, Nazri, who is the de facto law minister, reasoned that such comments were far too rampant nowadays with the growing influence of social networking websites.

"It's difficult to take action against Ibrahim now, with the existence of Twitter and blogs ... because we cannot be selective in our prosecution," Nazri had said.

Khoo said that he "half agreed" with Nazri, but added that the development of society in Malaysia was "not uniform" as to disregard Ibrahim's comments by being "mature" about it.
'Situation a little hypocritical'

"What will happen if people take action on their own? Should Ibrahim Ali then be held responsible?" Khoo asked, adding that the situation "it was a little hypocritical".

"As a human rights lawyer, I respect his (Ibrahim's) right to free speech, but people must be held responsible for the things they say.

"When what they say makes other people anxious, it is incumbent upon them to ensure that what they are saying is factual," said Khoo.

ibrahim ali kerdau bn ceramahIbrahim (left) had caused public outrage after issuing an ultimatum against "ungrateful Christians" if they pursued a purported plot to subvert the position of Islam as the official religion of the federation.

The Independent MP for Pasir Mas said this in reference to a report in Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia that a group of pastors and DAP politicians were plotting to make Christianity the official religion of Malaysia.

Utusan, which based its front-page news headed 'Kristian Agama Rasmi?' (Christianity the official religion?) on claims made by two pro-Umno blogs, also said that the pastors and DAP wanted to appoint a Christian as prime minister.

The pastors and the DAP have was repeatedly denied this charge, but Perkasa intensified its warning after Mohamed Razali, a member of DAP's Jelutong branch, in a police report he lodged last week, said there was some truth in the Utusan report.
TI's Low must be considered credible

Today, Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) chairperson Paul Low again refuted that there was such a 'Christian plot', for he was also present at the event with the pastors.

The event, called the Unashamedly Ethical Conference, discussed the role of Christians in the fight against corruption and was held in Penang two weeks ago.

Khoo said that Low should considered credible as the latter is also a commissioner with the recently formed Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission.

He also criticised the government's inaction on Utusan and Perkasa, especially since Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak had given a lecture about embracing moderation in Oxford University yesterday.

"No point addressing the issue in Oxford when things are happening in your backyard and nothing is being done," Khoo added.

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