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Media Statement (2)
, Tuesday): DAP agrees with the condemnation of Minister in the Prime Minister Department Datuk Nazri Aziz as “stupid” the protest against an open forum when the forum was a legitimate activity organised to intelligently discuss current matters. Malaysians are sad that primitive tactics of repression and hooliganism are employed by a so-called Anti Inter-Faith Commission Body to force the cancellation of an Article 11 Forum organized on 14.5.2006 in Penang entitled “The Federal Constitution: Protection for All”. Clearly such constitutional protections for Malaysians are selective and only apply to those who support the establishment and not those with differing views.
What is sadder and more irresponsible are the double-standards practiced by police in refusing to take action against demonstrators for forcing the cancellation of the forum. This is a black day for freedom of religion and rule of law in Malaysia when a legally permitted forum has to be cancelled due to hooligan tactics by demonstrators who were allowed to be rowdy by the police.
The last time such hooliganism was employed was during the oppressive Mahathir era in 1996 when UMNO Youth members disrupted and forced the cancellation of a forum on East Timor. DAP expressed disappointment that such primitive tactics continue to be employed in the so-called modern, open and more liberal Abdullah administration.
The 500 demonstrators did not have a permit whilst the forum had one. Why were those without a permit allowed to disrupt and force the cancellation of a forum with a permit? By right the police should allow the forum to continue and take action against these trouble-makers. The 500 demonstrators have a right to demonstrate to express their opposition. But they do not have the right to disrupt a legally permitted forum.
This is clearly another case of police double-standards and hypocrisy when demonstrators disrupting the forum are not arrested and a forum with police permit is cancelled. The speakers represented a broad spectrum of NGOs who believed in basic human rights of freedom of expression such as National Human Rights Society (Hakam) deputy president and lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, member of the Royal Commisson of Police Ivy Josiah, constitutional expert Prof Shad Saleem Faruqi, Kota Baru MP Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, and former Bar Council president Datuk Dr Cyrus Das.
This cancellation of a legally permitted forum only highlights how intolerant Malaysian society has become under Islam hadhari where dialogue is no longer possible and everyone must accept and kowtow to the uniformity of an Islamic state. DAP express full support for the convenors of Article 11 and praises their fortitude and determination to continue with the forum in Kuching and Johor Baru.
Malaysians have a right to show our solidarity with the right to question why our Federal Constitution has been undermined, turning a secular constitution into an Islamic state. Malaysians must stand up together for freedom of religion against all forms of religious extremism and intolerance as well as condemn such tactics of oppression and hooliganism.