I call on the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to fully accept the apologies tendered by the two 19-year-old teenagers Mohammad Ammar A Rahman and Ong Sing Yee as well as by their parents bearing in mind that “To err is human, To forgive divine” and to ask the Attorney-General to take their apologies into account.
Right from the beginning, I have made my position clear – I do not approve or condone Mohammad Ammar and Ong Sing Yee’s actions. What they have done is wrong and deplorable. Malaysians have a right to expect more civilised conduct in public life.
However Malaysians are rightly concerned at the Barisan Nasional government’s heavy-handedness and double standards in handling the matter.
For instance, why was it necessary to handcuff Ong as if she is a dangerous character when she had surrendered herself to the police, which itself is a clear acknowledgement on her part that what she had done was wrong and her preparedness to face the consequences. But is it right and proper for the police to treat her as if she is a hardened and dangerous criminal requiring her to be handcuffed, when Malaysians can see for themselves BN VIPs, including Ministers and former Ministers, treated with kid’s gloves although charged with grave crimes against the state and people?
Furthermore, there had been a long list of cases where Pakatan Rakyat and civil society leaders like Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, Bersih Co-Chair Datuk Ambiga Sreenivasan who had been publicly insulted and humiliated but met with no government interest or action – including instances of official sanction or condonation.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has called for harsh actions wanting the “books to be thrown” at the wrongdoers. He would have greater credibility and public respect if he had been consistent and advocated that strong actions be similarly taken against those who had violated public morality in publicly insulting or humiliating Anwar, Lim Guan Eng, Nik Aziz or Ambiga.
It is also harsh and unconscionable for Mohammad Ammar to be sacked from his college and he should be reinstated immediately.
I am also surprised to read reports that the police have detained two youths who displayed the Sang Saka Malaya flag on Merdeka Day eve, as they have denied that they wanted to replace the national flag Jalur Gemilang but were engaged in an exercise in history.
The Barisan Nasional is acting in a most irresponsible manner in trying to exploit both these two incidents to its political advantage, falsely accusing Pakatan Rakyat for masterminding them and spreading the lies that Pakatan Rakyat wanted to change the national flag and amend the Constitution to abolish the system of constitutional monarchy and set up a republic.
It is such lies and falsehoods which are doing the greatest disservice to Malaysian nation-building. In fact, those who are prepared to spread such lies and falsehoods which could undermine national harmony, solidarity and unity are guilty of the the most unpatriotic acts against the Malaysian nation and people. Who are these unpatriotic leaders in Barisan Nasional?
(Speech at DAP Kuching Dinner “Towards A New Malaysia” in Kuching on Friday 7th September 2012 at 9pm)