Putrajaya condoning racial and religious tension, says Ambiga

The Church of Assumption at Lebuah Farquhar, Penang, where a Molotov cocktail bomb exploded at its compound on Monday morning. A former Bar Council chief says the Najib administration should take a firmer stand against those inciting racial and religious tension in the country. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Hasnoor Hussain – January 29, 2014.

By Eileen Ng, TMI

Putrajaya is condoning the raging racial and religious tension in the country, Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said last night, hitting out at the prime minister for not taking firm action to stop those inciting hatred among Malaysians.

The former co-chairman of electoral reform group Bersih 2.0 said Datuk Seri Najib Razak , together with the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, have the power to stop the escalating tension.

“This situation between the races is being condoned by the leadership. That’s my inference because as far as I am concerned, you can stop it and if you don’t, you are condoning it,” she said at a forum organised by DAP in Kuala Lumpur.

Criticising Najib, who had called on Malaysians to remain calm after a month of high tension, Ambiga said he should have taken firmer action by warning those who incited religious and racial tension that they would face the full brunt of the law.

Najib and his government, the former Bar Council chief said, should set the tone and standards and make a firm stand of zero tolerance towards those who incited racism and hatred.

“That’s what he should say instead of asking people to ‘keep calm’. That’s nonsense.”

The senior lawyer expressed concern over Putrajaya’s lack of decisiveness in dealing with those who stoked racial and religious tension, saying this had emboldened irresponsible groups.

“These groups have become bolder because they know they are beyond the law, they can say or do anything they want and nobody touches them.

“That’s what I am concerned about and it is created by the country’s leadership,” she told a crowd of about 50 at the DAP headquarters.

As such, Ambiga welcomed Pakatan Rakyat’s offer to Barisan Nasional for a bipartisan dialogue to cool down the current temperature, but noted if the talks failed to take off, then the opposition pact should hold a special meeting and invite the public to participate and give their views.

“Let them set the agenda for the country and show leadership because we have a leadership void and someone has to fill it.”

She said there was nothing to lose if the government accepted the offer, noting that instead, it would show that there was leadership in the country.

“There is nothing to be afraid of, nothing’s wrong with talking and listening, that’s what makes a fine leader.”

Ambiga called on Malaysians to take a stand and say “in the strongest term” that they did not tolerate any provocative acts.

“Speak up! If you do not speak up against it, then you condone it. You are part of it, you are encouraging it.”

Veteran DAP leader Lim Kit Siang, who was also at the forum, said he was afraid of another May 13, 1969 racial riots, not because he had experienced it, but because he did not want to see the country in ruins.

“Everyone will suffer and the country will go down the drain. So yes, I am afraid of May 13 and I am not ashamed to admit it,” he said, adding that no one benefited if the country was in an upheaval.

Tension reached a high when two Molotov cocktails were thrown into the compound of the Church of the Assumption in Lebuh Farquhar, Penang, two days ago.

One of the bombs exploded while the other fell on the grass and did not explode in the incident which occurred early Monday morning.

Initial police investigation revealed two men on a motorcycle committed the crime.