Media Conference Statement (2) by Lim Kit Siang at Wisma DAP Perak in Ipoh on Wednesday, 24th February 2010 at 10.30 am:
Right-thinking Malaysians gravely concerned at the rise of intolerance and bigotry under Najib’s 1Malaysia
According to Malaysiakini, four police reports were lodged in Sentul, Kuala Lumpur yesterday over an article last Friday entitled “Persuasion, not compulsion” by the Star managing editor P. Gunasegaram for allegedly containing seditious material which insulted the Malays and Islam.
The police reports state that Gunasegaram's commentary on the recent syariah whipping sentence meted against three women was an insult to Muslims and contended that Gunasegaram has no right to comment about Islamic jurisprudence because he is not a Muslim.
There were calls for Gunasegaram to be sacked as Star managing editor and for boycott of Star unless there is an apology.
I have not read the Star article before the police reports. The Star has no love for me and I have no love for Star. However, as a matter of principle, I read Gunasegaram’s article and I find it quite rational and sensible, there was no intention to insult or scandalise Islam and it should be the last object for criminalisation and the subject of police reports.
The whipping of women under syariah criminal offences legislation has created controversy for a variety of reasons, including for contradicting civil law where women are not punishable by caning under Section 289 of Criminal Procedure Code.
Gunasegaram made the valid point about indications that Malays, especially women, are migrating and leaving their homeland, not because they don’t have opportunities here but because as Muslims, their personal freedom is restricted – and there is danger that it will be curtailed even more.
Right-thinking Malaysians are gravely concerned at the rise of intolerance and bigotry under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1Malaysia and Najib must give this disturbing trend his personal attention if Malaysia is not to be the frequent focus of adverse international attention and be a loser in the international competition for talents.
Is Malaysia’s plural society under Najib’s 1Malaysia moving towards greater openness, tolerance and liberalism or retreating into the shell of greater intolerance, bigotry and extremism?
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor