Najib: Aziz Bari case misunderstood

By Husna Yusop, The Sun

KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 23, 2011): Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak has clarified that law lecturer Prof Dr Abdul Aziz Bari has not been suspended from his duties by the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM).

He said Abdul Aziz was instead suspended pending investigation by the university on the statements he made in relation to the Selangor Sultan’s recent decree concerning the JAIS-Harapan Komuniti issue.

“Whether he would be suspended from work or not, it depends on the reply or explanation he is going to give. We don’t know about that yet.

“This is a public misunderstanding. Disciplinary action has yet to be taken against him. The university is investigating now what he actually said (before). We must not pre-empt (their actions),” Najib said.

Abdul Aziz has been issued with a show-cause letter on Oct 19 over allegedly seditious remarks he made about the Sultan regarding his decree on the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) inspection during a thanksgiving dinner by NGO Harapan Komuniti at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church in Petaling Jaya on Aug 3.

The Sultan had said there were attempts to proselytise Muslims but no group would be prosecuted over the incident.

Abdul Aziz was quoted by a news portal calling the Sultan’s action of intervening in the issue as uncommon.

Najib said IIUM Rector Prof Datuk Dr Zaleha Kamaruddin has told him Abdul Aziz was under investigation and being given a chance to explain himself. He has until Oct 25 to reply to the show-cause letter.

On the Himpunan Sejuta Umat (Himpun) rally at Stadium Shah Alam on Saturday, Najib congratulated those involved, saying they were “well-mannered and under-control.”

“That was my intention when the government offered a stadium to Bersih 2.0. Compared to the chaos during Bersih, it was way different. During Himpun, no one felt disturbed and pressured or unsafe,” he said.

He said it also reflected on the government’s intention to amend Section 27 of the Police Act.

“We will study what happened (during Himpun) and the norms in other countries. We will think of the best ways to balance between basic human rights, public interest and safety as a modern and progressive country,” he said.

On the demonstrators call for an Apostasy Act to be put into place, Najib said it is for the state government to take the proper action as religion is a state matter under the jurisdiction of the Malay Rulers.

On Saturday, about 5,000 people gathered at the stadium for the event, organised by 25 non-governmental organisations, including the Malay right wing group Perkasa.

On another matter, Najib was asked whether it was unethical for children of politicians to be exploited for political mileage.

To this, he said it work both ways.

“If you want to have certain ethics, to exclude the family, then everybody should adhere to it, including the opposition. That is the ideal in a modern democracy – you concentrate on policy matters.

“You can debate about differences in policies, weaknesses in implementation, but you leave aside family, or exploiting family matters, for your own political gain,” he added, in reference to Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who had complained that bloggers had unfairly targetted his teenage son and posted lies about him.