Stop delaying action against Ibrahim Ali, says former A-G

By Amin Iskandar
The Malaysian Insider
Jan 31, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 31 — The authorities must speed up action against Datuk Ibrahim Ali over his Bible-burning threat, says retired Attorney-General Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman, adding any further delay in acting against the veteran politician could be held against the establishment ahead of Election 2013.

The vocal Ibrahim, who heads right-wing Malay group Perkasa, had sparked a firestorm last week when he reportedly called on Muslims to torch Malay-language copies of the Christian holy book that describes the Christian god as “Allah”, an Arabic word many Muslims here believe to be exclusive to their community.

“The issue is not the burning of the Bible. What is in the issue is, did he utter those words?” Abu Talib told The Malaysian Insider in an interview.

“If so, whether those words were seditious within the Sedition Act, reading it as a whole and in the context it was made. So, whether the Bible was burned is not material though helpful in the prosecution of the case if he is charged,” he said.

The government’s former top lawyer noted the police reports filed complaining about Ibrahim’s provocative remarks were related to the “Allah” dispute that has been simmering for the past four years.

He said there was no reason for the law enforcers to procrastinate deciding whether or not to prosecute the independent federal lawmaker who has been accused of inciting tension among Malaysia’s Muslim majority camp and followers of other faiths.

Abu Talib has been among others who have accused the A-G’s Chambers of practising selective prosecution.

“The police said they were recording statement from relevant witnesses. Surely they don’t require so much time to complete their investigations and make a decision if they are committed to a fair and impartial investigation.

“In fairness to him, clear him fast if he has not acted contrary to the Sedition Act 1948 or for that matter, any law applicable,” said the 73-year-old, who served as A-G for 13 years from 1980 to 1993, referring to Ibrahim.

The Bar Council and opposition lawmaker Karpal Singh have urged the government to charge the Pasir Mas MP with sedition but the incumbent A-G Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail has said action will only be taken against Ibrahim if bibles were burnt, and that the latter’s statement was not of grave concern.

Weighing in on the issue, Abu Talib said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had worked to dismantle archaic laws, namely the Internal Security Act (ISA) — which had been widely panned as a tool to suppress dissent — to bring the country’s justice system up to speed and in line with international human rights policies.

“Democracy, being government of, for and by the people, implies that it is the populace that is to be served and the elected is the servant, not the reverse,” said Abu Talib, who has chaired the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia.

The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) and the police force have taken a public beating in recent days with the Pakatan Rakyat federal opposition accusing the two public institutions of working with its political foe, Barisan Nasional, to keep the ruling coalition in power.

The AGC under Abdul Gani’s leadership has been hit with allegations of practising selective prosecution, including from Abu Talib and other retired civil servants such as former Kuala Lumpur criminal investigation police chief Datuk Mat Zain Ibrahim.

A recent survey of five public institutions by the Merdeka Center found the police force bottoming out among Election 2013 first-time voters compared to both federal and state governments, the judiciary, the election regulator and political parties.

Politicians and local clergymen had lashed out at Ibrahim, the Perkasa founder and president, for allegedly stoking religious hatred and driving a deeper wedge between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Muslims are Malaysia’s biggest religious group at 60 per cent, while the minority Christians, who form just under 10 per cent of the 28 million population, have been at the forefront of issues confronting the non-Muslim community, which are provided for under the country’s constitution.

The Malaysian Islamic Development Department also upset church leaders with its sermon last Friday, in which it warned Muslims nationwide of “enemies of Islam” that would try to confuse them into believing that all religions share the same god.

Muslim and Christian leaders here have been at loggerheads over use of the Arabic word “Allah” despite a 2009 High Court judgment that ruled Muslims did not have an exclusive right to the word “Allah”.

Debate resurfaced last month after DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, who is also the Penang chief minister, called on Putrajaya to lift a ban on Malay-language bibles in Sabah and Sarawak, where the “Allah” word had been in use for centuries.

A Sabah church group has also alleged that the religious freedom of Christian Bumiputeras was under attack, pointing out that most adherents of the faith in Malaysia came from east Malaysia and used the Malay language.

A Buddhist group has urged the National Unity and Integration Department, which is under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Department, to resolve the drawn-out dispute over the usage of “Allah”.

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Thursday, 31 January 2013 - 8:26 am

    Didn’t we know that the public institutions in Bolehland protect the ruling regime and not the rakyat?

  2. #2 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 31 January 2013 - 9:01 am

    I actually think Najib would like to act against Ibrahim Ali but he can’t and won’t – he can’t even afford the doubt it would set in he minds of the ultras about him so close to the GE or it will kill UMNO/BN’s campaign..

    It simply his own strategy coming back to bite him..Ibrahim Ali is sinking’s UMNO/BN ship and there is nothing he can do about it..

  3. #3 by Dap man on Thursday, 31 January 2013 - 10:10 am

    How can the UMNO-linked AG prosecute another UMNO-linked man?
    Perhaps he had thought the people will forget about the issue but with the heat building up and the call to take action against Ibrahim, the AG will have no choice but the charge him.
    But the trial will be delayed like the Allah appeal.

  4. #4 by Cinapek on Thursday, 31 January 2013 - 10:37 am

    It is as clear as day that Perkasa is deliberately inciting and provoking the non muslims and Christians with the blessings of BN. He has got away so many times in the past with his many seditious comments that would landed any opposition figures in jail if they were to make similar or lesser comments. Take Karpal’s sedition trial for example.

    This whole charade is a “good cop/bad cop” routine. UMNO knows they have lost the support of the non Malays and also the Christian voting bloc. They know it is a lost cause so why bother flogging a dead horse. Might as well cut your losses and salvage as much Malay votes as possible by taking the election campaign to the extreme right. Malays still form the majority in this country with more than 60% of the population and if they can win more support from this group it might be enough to offset the non Malay ABU votes. As for upsetting the Christians in E. Malaysia, maybe BN feels they have an easier task to counter this by tactics such as “ICs for votes” or simply offering goodies to the folks in isolated areas.

  5. #5 by tuahpekkong on Thursday, 31 January 2013 - 10:46 am

    Ibrahim Ali must have been echoing the views of some powerful UMNO ultras, otherwise how could the law enforcers procrastinate for so long over such a sensitive issue? We know that immediate action would have been taken had the situation been exactly opposite. So this talk about 1Malaysia is just a sham. Fishing for votes is the main aim.

  6. #6 by sheriff singh on Thursday, 31 January 2013 - 10:59 am

    Times have changed Abu Talib, times have changed….for the worse at the Chambers, not that it was any good previously. We have Third Class people running the show now, calling the shots. Just you retire in peace.

  7. #7 by sheriff singh on Thursday, 31 January 2013 - 11:06 am

    One (former) AG chastising another A-G. I just love this dog-fight.

  8. #8 by sheriff singh on Thursday, 31 January 2013 - 11:30 am

    Of bigger concern now, especially for the non-Muslims, is that many Muslim parties are now petitioning the Conference of Rulers to ask them to declare that ‘Al-lah’ is to be exclusively for the Muslims. We know many Rulers are sympathetic to this move.

    Should their highnesses concur and declare so, it will have serious ramifications. Existing court decisions may not be important anymore.

  9. #9 by john on Thursday, 31 January 2013 - 11:37 am

    All sandiwara with MMKutty sitting right at the centre pulling string, again using his Machai, Ibrahim A. to stir matter.
    The AG, Polise Raja di M have been times again, and again proven to “kowkow” to their political masters or to leverage for self-gratification, interests. ALL ! , ‘independent’ institutions are now make subservient to UMNO/bn corridors of power, to serve UMNO since MMK’ s regime days.
    If ever actions being taken would be to answer their masters bidding and not on the rule of law.
    In the first place the rule of law is there to be enforced but since MMKutty’s days being abused to serve UMNO/bn now, instead.

  10. #10 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Thursday, 31 January 2013 - 10:26 pm

    In Malaysia, there is one set of laws for Ibrahim Ali, Perkosa and their ilk.

    There is just another set of laws for ordinary Malaysians.

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