KUALA LUMPUR, May 16 — The DAP rebuked the government today for refusing to punish Datuk Ibrahim Ali over his crusade threat against Christians, declaring this as proof that Umno backs the leader’s controversial Malay rights group Perkasa.
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng described Perkasa as Umno’s “alter ego” while his deputy Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham said both parties were playing a game of “good cop, bad cop” to woo Malay support.
“We have always believed that Ibrahim Ali is working hand in hand with Umno. Umno is using Perkasa to stir up Malay fear to force unity and make them support Barisan Nasional (BN).
“They are trying to use this common enemy syndrome and BN hopes to use Perkasa to actually send the message that Umno has been trying to send all this while,” said Ngeh.
He also accused Ibrahim of being a bad Muslim for professing himself as a protector of Islam but at the same time inciting unrest by calling for violence against the Christians.
He charged that Ibrahim’s main agenda was to cause fear among the Muslims and fabricate a struggle between the races in order to emerge as a “hero of Islam”.
“Religion should remain pure but far too often politicians use it for their personal agenda. In my opinion, he is not practising Islam at all... by making false accusations, inciting hatred, he is not a good Muslim,” he said.
The DAP leaders also agreed that the government’s failure to punish Ibrahim for his threat, which they said was a form of “criminal intimidation”, was clearly a case of double standards by the administration.
As an example, DAP national organising secretary Teresa Kok pointed out to The Malaysian Insider that an investigation had immediately been called when an article alleging a conspiracy by the Christians to usurp Islam was published in Malay daily Utusan Malaysia.
“Why, when Utusan published a blogger’s article talking about rumours that Christians want to change the religion of the federation, which is not at all the case, the cops came out to say that they were investigating it. And so many people were called up.
“What about this one? Is this not equally as inflammatory?” she said when contacted.
Kok added that all eyes would be on the government now to see if any action would be taken against Ibrahim.
Lim said the statement by Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein yesterday in explaining the issue was unsatisfactory and only further confirms Umno’s backing of Perkasa.
When asked for his remarks yesterday, Hishammuddin appeared to brush off concerns, saying Ibrahim does not represent the sentiments of all Malays.
“I don’t think Ibrahim Ali represents all the Malays or all the Muslims. Same as Osama bin Laden, he doesn’t represent all the Muslims.
“There are extremists, I’m not saying Ibrahim Ali is an extremist, please don’t quote me wrongly but I’m saying that there are different levels of understanding so let the public decide who they want to represent (them),” he said, adding that there are extremists in the Chinese community as well.
“This is a weak excuse by Umno because if action is only taken based on the strength of your representation not the nature and ill-intent of your violence, why then act against terrorists because they also do not represent all the Malays?
“This latest justification by Hishamuddin on why no action is taken against Ibrahim only confirms that Perkasa is Umno’s alter ego,” said Lim.
He pointed out that when Ibrahim launched his crusade threat against Christians on Saturday during the ceramah organised by the Komunity 1 Malaysia group in Kampung Changkat in Gombak here, several Umno leaders were present — Gombak Umno chief Abdul Rahman Kamaruddin, his deputy Abdul Aziz Jantan and division information chief Ismail Ahman.
In his speech, Ibrahim had called for a crusade or holy war against the Christians if the community proceeds with its agenda to usurp Islam.
“Please record my words — if there is any party in Penang, especially the Christian priests who are being backed by the Penang DAP, should continue with their agenda which we already know, I would like to offer that if they want to hold a crusade, we can,” he had said.
His threat was inspired by the Utusan Malaysia article entitled “Kristian Agama Rasmi?” (Christianity the official religion?) which alleged that DAP leaders and Christian priests were conspiring to take over Putrajaya, abolish Islam as the religion of the federation, and install a Christian prime minister.
Lim said it was likely that Hishammuddin’s failure to take stern action against Utusan Malaysia for its Christian conspiracy article had emboldened “extremists like Ibrahim”, resulting in the latter’s call for war against Christians, who make up about 10 per cent of the country’s population.
In response, Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon called for a full investigation into all of Ibrahim’s speeches made in recent days, saying the leader was “uncouth” and in clear violation of 1 Malaysia.
“I feel disgusted that he should beat his chest this way, trying to be a hero, especially after the prime minister has just met Muslim and non-Muslim leaders separately, calling for calm, understanding and mutual respect,” he said in a statement yesterday.
However, Lim said Koh’s statement was pointless and urged the unity affairs minister to raise the matter in the Cabinet instead.
“There is no point for other BN component parties such as Gerakan or MCA to make press statements only in the non-Malay media asking for action against Ibrahim Ali when they know that none will be taken.
“So far no Gerakan or MCA ministers have dared to press for a Cabinet decision insisting that Cabinet acts firmly against racists and extremists seeking to burn 1 Malaysia with this dangerous lies,” he said.
In a separate statement today,Lim Eng also called on all Malaysians to unite against such religious extremism, warning other non-Muslim communities that they could be Umno’s and Utusan Malaysia’s next target.
“The time has come for Malaysians to stand up for peace and step out with each other on the common principle that no one should be discriminated based on race or religion.
“Even though Christians and not Buddhists are targeted by Umno and Utusan Malaysia this time, what is there to stop Buddhists and Hindus from being the next targets in future,” he said.
He cited a quotation by anti-Nazi and protestant pastor Martin Niemöller to illustrate his point, “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out... because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out... because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out... because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me... and there was no one left to speak for me.”