31 Oct 2014

AG’s statement on Bible-burning boggles the mind

The recent public statement by the Attorney-General giving his reasons for not prosecuting Ibrahim Ali for sedition has not in any way allayed the discontent of many people including even a cabinet minister.

They cannot understand, and rightly so, why this man is being protected from prosecution.

On the contrary the reasons given by the AG is nothing but mitigation for the man whose outburst was a call to Muslims in this country to commit a serious crime under the Penal Code.

If indeed the story given in the AG’s Statement is true that there was an attempt by a non-Muslim student to distribute Bibles to students including Muslim students, the AG should know very well that if the act constituted an offence, it was an offence by the student or students concerned.

The offence does not extend to the Bible or to the millions of people in Malaysia who use the Bible as their holy book.

Would not those millions of Christians be troubled and offended by the call of that man to seize and burn Bibles? 

Does not such a call constitute a “seditious tendency… to promote ill will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Malaysia” within the meaning of Section 3 of the Sedition Act?

It was reported in a news portal on October 27 that Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said, “It is up to the Attorney-General. 

My personal opinion is when one says they want to burn the holy book of another, that is seditious.”

The AG gave two reasons why he chose not to prosecute Ibrahim. One was that, taken in its overall context, the man’s call to seize and burn Bibles did not have a seditious tendency.

The other was that the man had “no intention to offend or to provoke”. Both those reasons are flawed in law because they are not defences recognised by the Sedition Act.

On the contrary Section 3(3) of the Act has made it abundantly clear that “intention” (however good) of the person uttering the statement, is irrelevant if the statement has a seditious tendency.

It boggles my mind how the AG could excuse the man on grounds of his good intention when the law says otherwise.

It also boggles my mind how burning the Bible would defend the sanctity of the Islamic religion.

In such a prima facie blatant case of sedition as this, the AG would have done well to let the court decide if Ibrahim was entitled to the defence of “context” and “intention” as given by him.

Now, what about the many others who in a swoop, were recently charged for sedition? 

Were the considerations of “context” and “intention”, even though not valid considerations, not applied to them also before they were charged?

I think not.

Stanley Isaacs is the former Head of Prosecution, Attorney-General’s Chambers Malaysia.

Source : http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/highlight/2014/10/31/ags-statement-on-bible-burning-boggles-the-mind/

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