The most important issue in the cow-head incident is the threat of violence against the Shah Alam Hindu community and the Selangor State Government. The police must investigate not on the vaguely defined Sedition Act, but on whether the protesters had threatened bloodshed if the temple relocation was carried out. The lame excuse that the cow head was brought by unknown persons is completely irrelevant.
Nobody must be allowed to threaten with violence just because they feel “victimised”. Anyone who does so must be punished by law. Otherwise, society would sink into anarchy.
By suggesting that “if it can be resolved quickly and can be done with both sides understanding each other … … why would we want to penalise anybody?”, Hishammuddin is therefore encouraging the threat of violence as a means to negotiate.
A Home Minister by portfolio and a lawyer by training, Hishamuddin has brought both his office and profession to unprecedented shame with his disregard of law. By turning the Minister of Law and Order into the Minister against Law and Order, there are no two ways but for him to resign or be sacked.
The Prime Minister must now act boldly to keep his promise last Friday that actions would be taken against the perpetrators who incited violence. If the police refused to investigate them and the Deputy Public Prosecutor refused to charge them on violence, Malaysians would get the impression that such threats of violence are condoned by the Najib administration as a political means.
Hishamuddin’s justification of the cow-head protest by painting the perpetrators as victims is also legitimising and indirectly encouraging communal hatred. This can be explosive if it results in retaliating insults across communities, as all can claim to feeling victimised. He is also further tarnishing Malaysia’s image that Malaysian ministers legitimize hatred by sympathizing with the perpetrators.
This is most unfortunate when over 70 civil society groups representing different ethno-religious communities and sectors have issued a joint Merdeka message calling all Malaysians to delegitimize violence and hatred.
With Hishamuddin’s reprehensible statement, we call upon more groups and individuals to endorse the Civil Society Joint Merdeka Message. Group endorsement can be sent to [email protected] while individuals can endorse it online at http://www.petitiononline.com/2009MM/petition.html.
1. Civil Right Committee, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall（CRC-KLSCAH）
2. People’s Parliament
3. Civil Society Committee, LLG Cultural Development Centre
4. Centre for Policy Initiatives（CPI）
5. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor （EMPOWER）
6. The Micah Mandate
7. Writer Alliance For Media Independence（WAMI）
8. Civil Society Initiative for Parliamentary Reform（CSI @ Parliament）
9. Justice For Beng Hock Facebook Group
10. Centre for Independent Journalism（CIJ）
11. Suara Rakyat Malaysia（SUARAM）
12. All Women’s Action Society Malaysia（AWAM）
13. IMAGE Group
15. Council of Malaysian Indian Trustee
16. Persatuan Kebajikan Wawasan Cahaya Selangor
17. Persatuan Bharatham Negeri Selangor
18. Malaysia Youth and Student Democratic Movement（DEMA）
19. Editorial Board of Horizon e-journal
20. Pertubuhan Jamaah Islah Malaysia（JIM）
21. Sisters in Islam（SIS）