Press Statement by Charles Santiago in Klang on Saturday, 29th August 2009:
The ‘Cow Head’ demo in Shah Alam - Another attempt to create disunity and overthrow of the Selangor PR Government?
The rally by some 50 Malay Muslims, parading the head of a chopped cow, to dramatically protest the re-location of a Hindu temple to their neighbourhood is strangely unusual.
We have never seen such an overt display of religious discord in Malaysia, unless it is orchestrated by ruling UMNO, despite the escalation of racial tension in the last few years.
Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has been portrayed as a traitor to Islam and over the last few weeks, we have seen Pakatan Rakyat politicians in Selangor targeted by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
It is also weird that dozens of policemen watched silently when the protestors were spitting and kicking the bloodied cow head. The Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar, glossing over the inaction of his officers, said that he would definitely take action if a police report is lodged.
One protestor is reported to have challenged the state government to go ahead with the re-location, warning that it would guarantee bloodshed and racial tension. I am stumped as to what else the state police chief is waiting for, given that opposition politicians are quickly nabbed for what is alleged as statements that could threaten national security.
Furthermore, the Malaysian Insider has quoted a local resident of Section 23, where the temple is to be built, as saying that some of those who had protested were not even from their area.
All this points to dirty politics played by ruling UMNO heads, desperate to see the toppling of the opposition-led Selangor state government. This is shocking and absolutely despicable. I also strongly condemn the lack of action on the part of the police, who have subtly been accomplices to the act that is totally disrespectful of Hindus.
Malaysia is gearing up for its Merdeka Day celebration, complete with the glitz and pomp. But the rally comes amidst Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's new campaign, dubbed 1Malaysia, aimed at promoting national unity and integration by emphasizing equality among all races.
The protest not only questions the viability of the campaign but screams out at simmering issues that need the attention of the federal government. UMNO and its component parties cannot afford to apple polish or close a blind eye to the increasing racial tension, brought about by unequal treatment of the minorities and rising influence of Islamic hard-liners.
What happened outside the Selangor secretariat building on Friday is violence against minority Indians, who have been marginalised over the last 53 years. And it has certainly cast a shadow over Monday's celebrations.
In reality we would be celebrating a Black Merdeka not just because of Friday's protest but due to the ongoing clampdown on dissent, smear campaign against the opposition politicians, appalling coup staged to overthrow the Perak state government, efforts underway to topple the Selangor state government, death of Teoh Beng Hock while in the custody of anti-graft officers, rising curb on the freedom of expression and media and rampant corruption.
As such, I strongly urge the government and the police to take stern action against this group of people and conduct a public inquiry into the protest, the presence of outsiders at the rally and the unbecoming conduct of the policemen, who acted as guardians of the demonstrators who only succeeded in bringing shame upon themselves.
Also, I urge the state and the relevant authorities to organise mandatory religious and racial sensitivity courses for these protestors.
* Charles Santiago, Selangor DAP Vice Chairman & MP for Klang