Monday, August 11, 2008

Storming of Bar Council forum - Had UMNO plotted for the extreme reaction?

by Lim Kit Siang (veteran DAP leader)


Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said yesterday that the Bar Council’s persistence in going ahead with a forum on conversion to Islam has triggered extreme reaction from certain quarters, which in turn would threaten the country’s harmony.

He added that he had expected the extreme reaction to occur ( as the council ignored advice to call off the forum.

Is this an admission that UMNO had plotted for the extreme reaction to the Bar Council forum on religious conversions in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday – including the deplorable and disgraceful police conduct in submitting to the ultimatum by demonstrators threatening to storm into the Bar Council auditorium to disrupt the forum if the half-day forum was not ended by 10 am?

This must be the first time in the history of the Malaysian police force where it had openly and publicly submitted to the threats of demonstrators to commit an offence, i.e. to storm into a private property to disrupt a lawful meeting!

Can the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Musa Hassan and the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar defend and justify the shocking failure of the police to uphold law and order on Saturday?

It is an indictment on the failure of nation-building that in a month the country is to celebrate the 51st Merdeka anniversary that Malaysians are reminded that there is increasingly less space for open, civil and rational discussion on the problems and challenges of creating a Bangsa Malaysia of diverse races, cultures and religions.

The Bar Council had made it very clear that the forum was not to challenge the position of Islam as provided in the Constitution but to deal with the problems of the conflict of laws in the application of civil and syariah laws arising from Article 121(1A) of the Constitution.

This can be fully borne out from the one-hour discussion at the Bar Council forum before it was so shamefully truncated.

Could any one produce any evidence that the position of Islam as provided in the Constitution was being challenged from the one-hour discussion of the Bar Council forum before its disruption?

It is indeed sad and tragic that the demonstration against the Bar Council forum saw some elements of Umno, PKR and PAS united on a fictitious issue – the non-existent challenge of the position of Islam in Malaysia as provided in the constitution.

If all parties concerned can unite on the critical issues facing the nation, like wiping out corruption, fighting injustice and eradicating poverty, then Malaysia will be heading for national and international greatness and not like today, sliding down the slippery slope of mediocrity!

DAP has raised strong objections with the PKR leadership on the role of the PKR MP for Kulim Bandar Baharu Zulkifli Noordin in storming the Bar Council forum and I have been informed that disciplinary action would be taken against him.

The Pakatan Rakyat leadership will have to address the Pakatan Rakyat disarray over this issue.

Will the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council meet to discuss the similar disarray of the BN component parties or will the other 13 BN component parties just have accept the UMNO line because of the continued UMNO political hegemony in the Barisan Nasional?

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