On authorities’ alleged selective prosecution


– Lim Chee Wee
The Malaysian Insider
5 August 2014

Recent attempts to question the authorities’ purported inaction over cases involving non-Muslims’ alleged disrespect for Islam will only heighten racial tension. This is most irresponsible and unnecessary at a time when we can do with more goodwill among the different races.

On Sunday, Mingguan Malaysia in a column by Awang Selamat and Federal Territory Umno Youth chief, Mohd Razlan Muhammad Rafii had suggested that the authorities practiced selective prosecution by not acting against those who had insulted Islam. The argument was that Islamic preacher Shahul Hamid was swiftly picked up for questioning after a video of him insulting Hindus went viral on social media. Meanwhile, two individuals who had made disparaging remarks about Islam are still on the loose.

Such comments raise two issues: firstly, prosecutorial discretion and secondly, what is the solution to interfaith differences. It is a universally accepted practice and policy that not all suspected criminal offences must automatically be the subject of prosecution. The dominant consideration is whether it is in the public interest to prosecute and another consideration is whether there are mitigating circumstances such as admission of guilt/apology. Sometimes, prosecutorial discretion is perceived to result in double standard prosecution.

Neither Mingguan Malaysia nor Mohd Razlan provided empirical evidence to back its argument about rise in anti-Islam behaviour and how Singapore was swift in managing interfaith differences. Such emotive generalisation does not serve to improve the discourse. Perhaps, they have forgotten that Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee were charged last year under the Sedition Act for insulting the Muslims.

On the second point about solution to interfaith differences, it is time for us to move beyond prosecution and punishment. We must start debating the role of education, understanding, engagement, mediation and civil law remedy in resolving interfaith differences. – August 8, 2014.

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  1. #1 by bryanbb on Tuesday, 5 August 2014 - 8:08 pm

    race and religion seem to be the only topics that is used mainly because of the highly charged emotional angle that affects every one regardless of personal political affiliations/party,diverting attention away from the real critical issues of governance.Till it is too late to wake up and realise so.If one have been attention lately,almost every situation involving politics on both sides,has been spun into some religious/racial dimension,if there is an angle to do so!
    meanwhile,the corruption/hanky pankies continue,unabated..

  2. #2 by Noble House on Wednesday, 6 August 2014 - 1:31 am

    Perpetrating the fraud is a term used when one acts or speaks in a way not true to character in order to deceive or bamboozle others.

    Awang Selamat and the Federal Territory Umno Youth chief, Mohd Razlan Muhammad Rafii should be living in Afghanistan or Syria to get a better idea of who are the perpetrators and the persecuted there.

  3. #3 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 6 August 2014 - 6:53 am

    The writer talks of prosecutorial discretion solution & interfaith differences. He discourses from standpoint of rationality & law. However we’re all in that moment in history when rationality & law are not benchmarks. Opportunism is – and that’s why Extremism is on the rise. Opportunists foist upon others a set of core values to which every one must kowtow; whip up anxiety and hysteria that these core values, are threatened and seek to mobilise support by attacking others supposedly subversive of these values. This extremism enable them to profit and ascend in their political & professional careers. Identified with the right side of these values all kinds of problems even debts can be solved; with the wrong side, problems and harrassment will ensue. Opportunism then is the flavour of the times, not rationality or rule of law. Get real. That explains why and how that even one who devoted his whole life to upholding the rule of law could be charged and convicted of sedition -because he was on the wrong side- whilst those seen championing the right side could get away with impunity with their extremism. So everything depends on what values are defined as sancrosanct. Sadly at this time of history they are not rationality fairness & Rule of law.

  4. #4 by undertaker888 on Wednesday, 6 August 2014 - 11:03 am

    Selective persecution. Selective affirmative action (NEP). Selective university entrance. Selective projects based on race. Selective govt jobs based on race….etc. Apalagi umno baru mahu?

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