14 JULY 2016
I was appalled to read Ismail Sobri’s deplorable attempt at justifying the violent behavior of the UMNO youth red shirts at their protest outside DAP’s headquarters on Tuesday. “We cannot blame the UMNO youth as they are tasked to defend the integrity and dignity of the Malays who were insulted”, he is reported to have said.
Firstly, he is condoning the thuggery and hooliganism of the UMNO youth. Even he felt insulted, he said. As a Minister and a leader, he is expected to rise above this simplistic thinking. Violence of the kind displayed by the UMNO youth is unacceptable, no matter what provoked it. As a leader, we would expect him to condemn the behavior of these youths and advise them to leave the alleged insult to be dealt with by the authorities. By defending them, he is only serving to legitimise and fortify their misguided sense of superiority.
Secondly, who exactly tasked the UMNO youth to defend the integrity and dignity of the Malays and what is the ambit of this so-called task? They are but the youth wing of a political party and they do not represent the whole Malay community. I am sure that the many moderate Muslims in this country are horrified by their actions, but the Minister’s statement will be taken by these thugs to be a pat on the back for them and vindication of their actions. What might they do next time when they feel their dignity and pride has been insulted? They may be emboldened to be even more violent.
If we accept Ismail Sobri’s statement, does it then follow that the Chinese and the Indians and the Orang Asal are allowed to behave in a similar manner if they feel insulted? Not that they would, but if they did, the chances are that they would be arrested.
Marina Mahathir was spot on when she said that the failure of the political leaders to take action against Muslim ulama and Muslim groups found to insult others has caused extremism and the Islamic State mentality in Malaysia. This case is no different. The loutish behavior of UMNO youth is encouraged by the leaders of this country, when they make excuses for their inexcusable and even criminal actions.
The actions of the UMNO youth went beyond their right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. The violence displayed by them was a breach of the law, and must be dealt with by the law. The law must be applied to all, irrespective of race or religion, and the leaders of this country must learn to be colour blind, and to be more judicious in the statements they make. Acts of violence must be condemned, and not defended, justified and excused.
ADUN N81 Ba’ Kelalan