Stop this public lynching - Lim Teck GheeThe decision of the AG to charge Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee marks the half-way point in the public lynching of these two young people.
What were they guilty of?
A moment of unthinking madness; an act of stupidity and idiocy; a prank in bad taste; racial and religious insensitivity; youthful arrogance – yes, these criticisms and much more in the way of scorn and public shame and odium can be heaped on their foolish and misguided attempt to draw attention to themselves.
But to charge them for sedition and for a criminal act under the penal code! And then to deny them bail as if they are a major threat to public peace and order. Please!
Let us not forget that prominent politicians guilty of even more in your face racial and religious taunting have got away scot free, with the last notable racist political figure even put up as a candidate during the recent election. And what about even earlier incidents such as kris brandishing?
Come on, Malaysia!
Alvin and Vivian have already apologized for their offensive Selamat Berbuka Puasa ‘greeting’, calling it their “stupidest stunt” and reiterating that it was done in humour.
In a youtube posting available to everyone who should view it first before calling for their heads to be off, Alvin said, “We are recording this video to ask for forgiveness for offending Muslims in this holy month of Ramadan. We sincerely regret offending religious beliefs and sensitivities in multi-cultural Malaysia.”
He also said that they had no intent to insult or ridicule the Muslim faith, nor incite racial conflict.
In most societies except the most blinkered, the authorities and public would have moved on to more important matters.
But not in Malaysia where foaming politicians and retired politicians have bayed for the young couple’s blood and are urging our “independent and impartial” judiciary to impose the most serious punishment possible.
Alvin had ended the video by saying “selamat Aidilfitri dan maaf zahir batin (happy Aidilfitri and apologies for all discretions)”. He may not be genuinely repentant. But shouldn’t we give him the benefit of the doubt.
Apparently to the lynching and vigilante mob, this plea for forgiveness and compassion is not enough.
Viewing (mainly with pity and sadness) what is happening to this young couple and the innocent youth who had the words "Saya hina agama Islam" scrawled on his chest, leads me to wonder what has happened to us in this country that we can allow a few political and religious leaders, the media and our authorities to make a national controversy over a mindless stunt by two young people, blow it out of all rational proportion and act as if they are speaking on behalf of moderate Malaysians.
Alvin and Vivian invited this on themselves when they stupidly posted their crude prank. By surrendering to the lynch mob, we dishonour our core values of humanity, compassion and mercy. - cpiasia.net, July 19, 2013.
* Dr Lim Teck Ghee is a director of the Center for Policy Initiatives.