For once, that's very good to hear. But please tell that to your Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and best friend, UMNO!
We have read with interest that the MCA leadership has come out strongly via statements to the media the party was “extremely upset at the protesters' actions” which resulted in the event having to be wrapped up early. They said the forum should be respected by everyone as the council had conducted it in a rational and peaceful manner.
Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting was quoted to say that the “forum never intended to question the special position of the Malays or Islam as the religion of the federation as enshrined in the Federal Constitution. Never once were the organisers, speakers or registered guests critical of Islam”.
However, at the very same time, both the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and other top leaders from UMNO has been unapologetic and even threatening in their condemnation of the forum conducted by the Bar Council.
The Prime Minister said the Bar Council had been advised against holding the forum that touched on sensitive matters like religion and race. He has state that he“hope[s] such an incident won’t repeat itself. Last Saturday’s forum is proof that issues relating to religion and race are sensitive in the country.
The Deputy Minister went further to say that the Bar Council’s persistence in going ahead with a forum on conversion to Islam has triggered extreme reaction from certain quarters, which in turn would threaten the country’s harmony.
The country's top leadership has even not discounted the possibility of utilising the Internal Security Act against the forum organisers, clearly a threat which is no less “extreme” compared to the actions of the demonstrators!
Therefore, while we welcome MCA's views on the controversy, they must face up to their responsibility to challenge the views of the Prime Minister and UMNO, who are clearly abusing the race and religious card recklessly to create an atmosphere of fear. It is noteworthy that while the protesters were condemned, no comments were forthcoming on the opposing views espoused by the UMNO leaders.
Without doing so, it would appear that Barisan Nasional is perpetuating its system of divide and rule, where UMNO stokes the racial and religious sentiments of Malays while MCA plays its subservient role to placate the minority communities. That, will only strengthen the case that MCA has lost it total relevance in Barisan Nasional.
The DAP stands firm that there are probably no better party to organise and lead discussions on the Constitution and the laws of Malaysia than the Bar Council. It was also a constructive forum to ensure that unintended victms as a result our laws will be given humane and justifiable treatment. It will make a complete mockery of our legal and judicial system if its very practitioners are denied opportunities to discuss or explain our laws.