Malaysia

Pointless to prolong debate with Ibrahim Ali, says Soi Lek

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 22 – Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek refused today to condemn or support Datuk Ibrahim Ali’s latest threat to burn Malay-language Bibles, saying no good would come from prolonging a racially-charged debate on such a sensitive issue.

The MCA president, who has previously shown many times that there is no love lost between himself, his party and the Perkasa chief, told reporters at a press conference that there was no point even saying that Ibrahim should be charged with sedition for his remarks.

“We feel that the general principle is there, that there should be mutual respect. What if Muslims say they will burn our holy books and vice-versa? It is wrong, it is not good.

“But there is no need to prolong a debate already deemed sensitive. It will do no good and will only do harm,” the former minister said.

Dr Chua was asked if he felt that by failing to condemn Ibrahim’s threat, MCA would lose its non-Malay support, particularly those from the Christian community who were angered by the Malay rights leader’s words.

MCA’s partner in Barisan Nasional (BN) MIC, has also taken offence to Ibrahim’s remarks and recently urged the government to take stern action against the fiery leader.

“I hope all Malaysians will respect all religions. Whether it is Islam or Christianity... we have been practising this mutual respect since the day we achieved independence and the level of tolerance is exemplary,” Dr Chua said.

The outspoken Chinese community leader later berated a reporter for pressing for an answer on whether he felt Ibrahim should be hauled in for sedition.

Dr Chua, who had refused to answer “yes” or “no” to the reporter, had merely said that many other politicians in the country issue sensitive statements, apart from Ibrahim.

He named himself as an example, along with DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu.

“So in the whole country, a lot of people need to be charged,” Dr Chua said.

When the reporter asked if this meant his answer was “no”, the politician accused the youth of putting words in his mouth to ignite a controversy.

“Are you putting me in a spot? Are you persecuting me by telling me I only have a choice of yes or no?

“Only simpletons have such simple minds to say that issues only have yes or no answers... there are always grey areas,” he charged.

Dr Chua also earlier chided DAP’s Lim for raising the “Allah” issue recently during his Christmas message, arguing that the opposition leader was merely attempting to score brownie points from voters.

The “Allah” dispute, which first erupted after the watershed 2008 Elections, remains a hot-button topic in the run-up to this year’s polls.

Debate resurfaced last month after Lim, who is also the Penang Chief Minister, called on Putrajaya in his Christmas message to lift a ban on Malay-language bibles in Borneo Malaysia.

Hot on the heels of the DAP leader’s remarks, several state Rulers and Islamic religious authorities reminded non-Muslims of state laws banning use of the word, despite conflicting with a 2009 High Court judgment that ruled “Allah” was not exclusive to Islam.

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