BY JENNIFER GOMEZ | The Malaysian Insider
January 28, 2014
It only takes a spark to set off another May 13, said a worried Lim Kit Siang (pic) as he called on Malaysians to quell tension plaguing the country now.
The DAP adviser said this was the reason he had asked Penang PKR assemblyman Lee Khai Loon to apologise for stuffing kangkung into an effigy of the prime minister during a flash mob in Penang two weeks ago.
He said it was also why he has been crusading for Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat to form a secretariat to discuss issues plaguing the country.
“The situation has become very unhealthy, with drawn-out stoking of religious and racial tension for the past eight months,” he told The Malaysian Insider today.
Lim, who is Gelang Patah MP, is worried that the currently escalating tension could lead to a scenario similar to the black day in Malaysian history almost 45 years ago.
He also expressed concern that the police and authorities were standing by and doing nothing about the situation.
“While the majority of the rakyat want peace, all it takes is for a small percentage of people to go haywire, to spark another racial riot,” Lim warned.
Citing the recent Allah banner placed outside five churches in Penang and the molotov cocktail that was thrown into a chuch compound in Lebuh Farquhar in Penang in the wee hours of Sunday morning, Lim cautioned that there were certain quarters out to undermine harmony by engaging in these acts.
On January 15, Machang Bubok assemblyman Lee led a kangkung flash mob in Penang and stuffed the vegetable into an effigy of Datuk Seri Najib Razak, triggering outrage in Penang Umno, who then led demonstrations in the state and threatened a repeat of the May 13 racial riots.
“There was nothing wrong with what Lee Khai Loon did, but I was concerned that certain people out to create trouble would distort the situation and label it anti-Malay or such.
“For that (asking him to apologise), I got attacked all around, “Lim said.
Lim’s concerns led him to push for a Barisan Nasional-Pakatan Rakyat joint secretariat to discuss these issues.
He even suggested an emergency Parliament meeting during Chinese New Year to address the “kangkung” crisis, and the escalating attempts to incite religious hatred and create conditions for another May 13.
Lim said that over the past few days, he had received many calls from those who were equally concerned that matters were spiralling out of control.
“One of them was Ambiga. That is why I asked her to speak at the dialogue session tonight and she agreed,” he said, referring to former electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 co-chair and prominent lawyer Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan.
Lim said that what was needed was a proactive approach to remove destabilising effects on society, given what he described as extraordinary levels of tension building up in the country of late.
“There should be a proper response to this racial and religious incitement.
“We must learn to be sensitive to each other’s race and religion, and whatever we do, we must not cross the line,” he added.
The public dialogue at the DAP headquarters in KL tonight will discuss the most rational response to the escalating racial and religious polarisation in Malaysia over the past eight months.
Lim said the issue was not about the ‘kangkung phenomena’, the PM, Lee Khai Loon or any one personality,
“The issue is about reckless groups that have enjoyed immunity and impunity to incite racial and religious hatred, conflict and tension to destabilise the country and create another May 13 racial riots to achieve their petty, selfish and even traitorous political objectives,” he added.
Racial and religious tension has intensifed, with the latest incident being banners with the word ‘Allah’ put up in front of five churches in Penang over the weekend and Molotov cocktails thrown into the compound of one church early Sunday morning.
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim reiterated on Sunday his call for a dialogue with BN to address raging racial and religious issues, three days after making the same overture to the ruling coalition.
The opposition leader moved to extend the olive branch a second time after many Malaysians expressed concern over increased tension in the country resulting from several racial and religious issues lately. – January 28, 2014.