KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 – Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s inaugural blog posting has addressed the biggest issue haunting Malaysia since he was prime minister – the rearing of the ugly head of intolerance and extremism that is causing the worst racial and religious polarisation in the nation’s history, DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang said. In welcoming Abdullah’s first posting yesterday, which also marked the 51st Malaysia Day, Lim described as “valid and justified” Abdullah’s concerns that the people were now focusing more on differences in political thinking, race, religion and social status rather than the country’s diversity; and that the freedom to express via the social media has been used to voice anger and hatred.
“But is he prepared to take up the cudgel to champion moderation against baneful developments, like the upsurge of intolerance, extremism and the sedition dragnet which have created a climate of fear in country, as if we are in a prelude to Ops Lalang 2?” Lim said in a statement today. The Gelang Patah MP, claimed that the only people, who do not need to fear the Sedition Act, are those who have been inciting racial and religious hatred and conflict through lies and falsehoods since Abdullah’s tenure as prime minister.
He said the same people, who succeeded in forcing Abdullah to step down as prime minister, have become more blatant under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s administration. “As a result, we have the sad spectacle yesterday when Global Movement of Moderates Foundation (GMM) chief executive officer and former Higher Education deputy minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah asked for no media coverage at a forum on the country’s future. “He asked the media not to cover the event because of the climate of fear engendered by the recent selective and malicious sedition dragnet.
“Although the “no media coverage” was to protect the participants at the GMM forum from falling victim to the current sedition spree, there is the feeling that even Saifuddin himself may not be safe from the sedition dragnet, although he was a former deputy minister and was handpicked by the Prime Minister himself to be the CEO of GMM.” Lim also said it is sad and tragic that no top government leader, from Datuk Seri Najib Razak to key ministers, have spoken up against the irresponsible and unscrupulous exploitation of the May 13 tragedy.
He said this in reference to Abdullah saying in his blog yesterday that the racial riots should not be brought up. Lim said that because nobody in government spoke up against it, the matter has been spun into lies and falsehoods in furtherance of the politics of fear. This, he said, was reckless and could have adverse consequences on nation-building and the promotion of national unity. “Public funds were even expended to demonise the opposition in the film Tanda Putera,” he said, citing the 2013 history film that featured questionable scenes of the May 13 riots like its alleged portrayal of the Chinese community as being responsible for it.
The film also became controversial after the movie production team uploaded a photo of Lim on Facebook with a caption reading ‘Lim Kit Siang urinated at the base of the Selangor flag pole at the menteri besar’s residence”. The owner of the Facebook page later apologised to Lim. Abdullah, who was prime minister from 2003 to 2009, wrote on his blog yesterday that tolerance and mutual respect among the people have diminished, while the freedom to speak in the social media and other sites on the internet has been used to express racial anger. He wrote that the people must always have unity in their hearts and that unity must not be forced on them by frightening them because it could lead to fights. He also warned that the May 13, 1969 racial riots should be a lesson to all but not something to be brought up all the time.