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Friday, November 30, 2018

No reason for PAS-Umno to continue with ICERD rally

The constitution no doubt provides for peaceful assembly within a democracy. However, as responsible citizens, PAS and Umno supporters should seriously rethink before proceeding with the rally planned for Dec 8. The rally was initially mooted as a protest against ratification of the ICERD. But the best thing they can do given the present situation is to call it off. There is nothing else to say or fight over regarding the ICERD following the government’s decision not to ratify it. The rally on Dec 8 will only be an academic exercise.
It is meaningless to hold an assembly just to show the people their false pride while erroneously claiming that it was due to pressure from them that the government decided not to ratify the ICERD.
The only plausible reason PAS and Umno would have to continue with the rally is to gain some cheap political mileage from the ICERD issue. A political rally disguised as a “rally to show gratitude” at this crucial time will not augur well for the nation. Instead, these parties should be concerned about the recent scuffles at the Sri Maha Mariamman temple in USJ 25, Subang Jaya, where violence broke out over the temple’s relocation to another site.
The situation is still under strict police control. In this untoward fracas, many were injured and public utilities and private property destroyed. The situation warrants strict security measures, and the police are also preoccupied with the task of safeguarding the people, not only in the affected area but across the nation to ensure that no racial conflicts flare up.
In the midst of all this, we don’t expect the police to be everywhere if the planned ICERD rally turns unruly. In the present situation, anything untoward could happen. There is always the possibility that the rally will be subverted by irresponsible elements and turned into an unruly affair. Even a slight racial or religious spark could lead to uncontrollable flare-ups.
Of course, PAS and Umno might not claim responsibility if anything untoward happens during their rally. They could wash their hands and pin the blame on security personnel for not being able to control the situation.
PAS and Umno leaders should be more rational when deciding on the planned rally, and put the security and safety of the people above their narrow political interests. Don’t expect security forces to always be vigilant in a big rally if the situation gets out of control. They have other more important responsibilities to manage.
If the rally is being held to express gratitude to the government for not ratifying the ICERD, it would be wise for PAS and Umno, being parties to Muslims, to hold it within the four walls of a mosque or public hall. They would also be free to provide food for the participants.
No rational people would express their gratitude by holding a rally in a public place that could be exposed to many uncertainties. A peaceful rally at any moment might spiral out of control and turn into mayhem.
The organisers should also be aware that not all Malays support PAS or Umno. The rally will backfire as not all Malays agree with the plan. A failed rally would further alienate the parties from the people and make them even more irrelevant to the Malaysian political landscape.
Moaz Nair is an FMT reader.

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