Hardline Malay group faces sedition probe
BY CAROLYN HONG MALAYSIA BUREAU CHIEF IN KUALA LUMPUR, Straits Times 8 May 2014
POLICE are investigating a hardline group known as Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) for sedition over its provocative statements about minorities. Its latest racial attack calls the Chinese in Malaysia trespassers.
Police chief Khalid Abu Bakar confirmed to The Straits Times that there was an ongoing investigation of the group.
Members of the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) as well as the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) yesterday said they had filed seven police reports about Isma’s statements.
Earlier, Tan Sri Khalid told the Malaysiakini website that the police will not compromise with anyone who threatens national security.
“My advice to all is to be careful in making statements that could stir racial tension in the country,” he was quoted as saying. “We will not compromise on anyone who threatens national security regardless of political links.”
On Tuesday, Isma president Abdullah Zaik Abd Rahman provoked an outcry when he was quoted by his group’s website as saying that the influx of Chinese migrants into Malaysia had been “a mistake” which must be corrected.
“Who gave them the right of citizenship and wealth as a result of this trespass that they are protected until today?” he said. “This is all the doing of the British who had conspired with the Chinese to oppress and bully the Malays.”
This provoked an immediate outcry. MCA Youth chief Chong Sin Woon said there was no room for Isma in this multiracial nation, and joked that the Chinese had now been “upgraded” from being described as immigrants in the past to intruders now.
Isma, which claims 20,000 members, has been around for many years. Many professionals joined in the early years to learn more about Islam.
But in the past year, it has begun to make increasingly provocative comments in a heated political environment where the Malays and non-Malays are split in their political loyalties.
Groups like Isma and Perkasa see Umno and the other Malay parties as weak for reaching out to non-Malays. Isma has also claimed that Indians and Chinese were brought into Malaysia to weaken the Malay identity.
Mr Abdullah Zaik also urged Malays to uphold the sanctity of Islam in order to keep power in the hands of the Malays. He said implementing hudud in Malaysia would help seal their political position in the country, as it would be under Muslim control.
Hudud is the Islamic penal code which prescribes punishments such as the amputation of limbs and stoning.
Mr Abdullah Zaik yesterday said his provocative statement about the Chinese being trespassers was “a historical fact”.
“The Chinese have forgotten their origins, so I must remind them,” he was quoted as saying by a news website. “It is they (the Chinese) who should be mindful of our (the Malays’) feelings. They shouldn’t just count on us Malays to care for their feelings.”
The police action yesterday came after many criticised the Malaysian authorities for allowing Isma to continue making incendiary statements which target minorities.
The criticism grew particularly loud after DAP MP Teresa Kok was charged with sedition on Tuesday for her satirical Chinese New Year video that mocked some of Malaysia’s top leaders.
Sedition is punishable by up to three years’ jail and a fine of up to RM5,000 (S$1,920) or both.
Earlier this year, the late DAP MP and lawyer Karpal Singh was also found guilty of sedition and fined RM4,000 for his remarks about the role of the Sultan of Perak during the constitutional crisis in the state in 2009.