Sarawak PKR welcomes IGP’s stance on racial, religious polemics

Desmond Kho

KUCHING, Aug 23: State Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) welcomes the move by Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador to warn all who presume to “champion” the polemics of highly divisive topics.

Its information chief Demond Kho said the recent bout of emotional rhetoric following the “Khat issue”, “Don Zhong”, “Zakir Naik” and “road rage” have caused sentiments that are spiralling out of control.

Abdul Hamid was recently quoted by national news agency Bernama as  saying “No more warnings will be given to those who try to incite racial and religious sensitivities.”

He said those involved, including political leaders, will be investigated and arrested immediately, adding “I will not hesitate to arrest them (those inciting racial issues). I have instructed my men to investigate cases classified as involving religious and ethnic sensitivities. Don’t wait, investigate and arrest. I repeat, no more warnings.”

In this regard, Kho said Abdul Hamid’s stance on this issue deserved support as the police force is entrusted with the job of keeping the peace and security in the country.

“PDRM are empowered under the Police Act, the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code to even take preventive action to maintain peace and order in Society. It is the IGP’s job to ensure that this is done.

“Some would argue that such measures are draconian in the 21st century, where freedom of speech is considered a human right. However, if left uncontrolled, we are prone to disagreement and irrational behaviour, and rules are necessary in order to avoid society breaking down,” Kho said in a statement today.

Citing Hong Kong as an example, he said the unlimited expressions of opinion have escalated to alarming bouts of uncontrolled violence.

“This is surely not wanted in Malaysia. However, the recent events have witnessed many inciteful rhetoric, including statements and speeches from political leaders using racial and religious issues. There is no other objective save to stir up the emotions of Malaysians.

“While freedom of speech is guaranteed by the Malaysian Constitution, any communications emphasising distinctions and differences in race and religion is unhelpful in a nation as diverse as Malaysia,” Kho added.

He opined that these emotional and inflammatory comments tend to fan sentiments of suspicion and distrust towards other races and religions, which can and will result in fracturing of Malaysian society.

“This sort of discussion is toxic and unable to constructively contribute to development of our country or its citizens. Thus, it must be remembered that such a social contract is the reason why freedom of speech in Malaysia (in light of racial and religious sensitivities) remains a qualified right,” he said. — DayakDaily