Who are Lawyers for Liberty?
Lawyers for Liberty’s non-executive director is Renuka T. Balasubramaniam (pic, left).
A few Malay establishment bloggers have labelled LFL as “musuh Islam [yang] wajib diperangi”.
Utusan senior news editor Zulkiflee Bakar believes that the group are kurang ajar. His editorial appeared two days ago under the headline ‘Kebiadaban, keceluparan LFL‘.
Some Malay bloggers have meanwhile questioned: “Siapa dalang di sebalik Lawyers for Liberty?” This is a pertinent question, just as I have similarly remarked as to who are behind the sinister, slanderous and anonymous blog ‘Stop the Lies’, and suggesting the answer — Scissorati funded by the MCA.
LFL is a company, similarly to the RM2 companies registered as evangelical churches.
One pro-Umno blog observed that “LFL dilihat banyak mempromosikan pakatan pembangkang dalam portal, facebook dan twitternya”. The blog admin of Angin Perubahan further pointed out that the LFL website had carried an article titled ‘Anwar still our best hope‘.
Blogger otai AIDC queried: “Kenapa Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) berucap dalam kongres PKR?” AIDC was referring to Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, the LFL campaign director who spoke at the 8th PKR congress held in Johor.
Attending the launch of LFL in Feb 2011 were then the PKR deputy president Senator Dr Syed Husin Ali, PKR vice president Tian Chua, PKR Selangor exco Elizabeth Wong, PSM chairman Dr Nasir Hashim; Bar Council past presidents Lim Chee Wee, Ragunath Kesavan and Sulaiman Abdullah, Bersih steering committee member Andrew Khoo, Loyar Buroker Amer Hamzah and prominent Indian lawyers.
Why are LFL in the limelight?
They issued a press statement yesterday, which I’ve reproduced in full at the bottom of this page.
LFL made several statements – copypasted below within quote marks – which need clarification. My own comments within square brackets.
(1) Blaming Umno leaders
LFL: “several minor incidents of perceived insult against Islam have been blown completely out of proportion by Umno leaders”
[This accusation made by LFL is vague. Who are these Umno leaders by name and what exactly did they say to blow the incidents completely out of proportion?]
(2) Blaming Umno politics
LFL: “this obvious attempt to pit Malay/Muslim against other ethnic group/religion”
[LFL makes no mention of the identical “obvious attempt by DAP to pit non-Malay/non-Muslims against the majority ethnic group/religion”. Never heard of the adage ‘it takes two hands to clap’, meh?]
(3) Blaming pro-Umno individuals
LFL: “What Alvivi, Chetz and Syed Ahmad have done while insensitive and naïve were nothing compared to what pro-Umno individuals such as Ibrahim Ali, Zulkilfi Noordin, Ridhuan Tee, Mohd Noor Abdullah and others have done which were much more serious and offensive but led to no repercussion or action.”
[What about all the utterances by pro-opposition individuals such as Bersih’s Ambiga Sreenevason, Aliran’s P. Ramakrishnan, Bishop Paul Tan and others which also fail to invoke any repercussion or action,
e.g. ‘Felda screening of Tanda Putera proves movie racist, Ambiga says‘, ‘Piss off, Tanda Putera filmmakers! [P. Ramakrishnan] and ‘Stop Dr M before he burns M’sia, says Bishop‘]
(4) Blaming pro-Umno police force
LFL: “while doing nothing against pro-Umno individuals”
[Similarly nothing is done against pro-Pakatan individuals.]
A good example of nothing being done, no repercussion and no action taken against them is the DAP evangelistas who traipse in and out of the surau and mosques as if these places of worship are their grandfather’s house.
LFL implied that police had misused their powers for Umno’s political ends to divide the nation between Malay/Muslim and other ethnic group/religion and to bolster Umno’s credential as the ‘defender’ of Islam and Malays.
When DAP misuse the surau and masjid for their political ends to bolster DAP’s credential as being Islam-friendly, the state enforcement agencies in the Pakatan-ruled states have nothing to say as well.
Commenter Rina wrote in my blog @ 2013/08/16 at 11:23 pm:
“Mohon Jabatan Agama Islam sentiasa memantau kegiatan si tembam pungkok selambak ni [Hannah Yeoh], dah naik seram tengok gambar2 dia dalam masjid”.
Who is manipulating religion the most, the BN or Pakatan?
If anyone wants to complain about action or inaction by the authorities, then just look at the abuse of the mosques and surau-surau, and the accompanying silence of the state government agencies.
Why does Lawyers for Liberty view with “extreme concern the escalating religious intolerance in Malaysia” and linking the development solely to “Umno leaders, their supporters and the mainstream media”?
Does not the escalating religious intolerance have links to DAP leaders, their supporters and the mainstream media such as The J-Star too?
LFL has called on the authorities to “act fairly and professionally, and not to misuse their powers for Umno’s political ends”.
The same call should apply to the authorities in the Pakatan states.
It is unfathomable how the DAP evangelistas are being allowed to get away with their intentional and deliberate misuse of the mosques when a chance and foreign Buddhist group is being raked over hot coals for their accidental use of the Sedili surau.
Related: Letakkan syarat wajib bersolat jemaah maghrib jika politikus evangelis mahu berbuka puasa di masjid
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MEDIA STATEMENT BY LAWYERS FOR LIBERTY
16 Aug 2013
Lawyers for Liberty views with extreme concern the escalating religious intolerance in Malaysia where in recent months, several minor incidents of perceived insult against Islam have been blown completely out of proportion by Umno leaders, their supporters and the mainstream media – leading to the arrest and remand of Maznah Yusof, known as Chetz, and Syed Ahmad (the resort owner), and in Alvivi’s case, criminal charges and denial of bail (which was later reversed after eight days in prison).
While religion especially Islam is a sensitive subject to most, this however must not detract from the fact that Malaysia is a multi-racial and multi-religious democratic state with established democratic norms including the Federal Constitution guaranteeing fundamental rights, rule of law, due process and other practises that mark Malaysia as a modern and civilised state.
Religion like any other important issue cannot escape from being subjected to scrutiny, comment, satire and to the less eloquent, insult and condemnation.
The government and state institutions such as the police, Attorney-General’s Chambers and Jakim, instead of advocating harsh action, should take a more measured approach in diffusing this obvious attempt to pit Malay/Muslim against other ethnic group/religion and explain why Islam or any other religion should not be subjected to insults.
While it is true freedom of speech is not absolute and there are accepted limitations e.g. incitement to violence and hate speech – the threshold for freedom of speech however must be high.
This is all the more true in the vast and borderless Internet and social media age where anybody, in good faith or otherwise can comment on any issues including on religion.
It would be futile and irresponsible for the authorities to keep going after these perceived “insults” when there are more pressing matters at hand especially the high crime rate and the shocking spate of violent crimes involving guns and explosives.
What Alvivi, Chetz and Syed Ahmad have done while insensitive and naïve were nothing compared to what pro-Umno individuals such as Ibrahim Ali, Zulkilfi Noordin, Ridhuan Tee, Mohd Noor Abdullah and others have done which were much more serious and offensive but led to no repercussion or action.
Needless to say, the authorities have acted selectively, disproportionately, in bad faith and double standards when persecuting Alvivi, Chetz and Syed Ahmad while doing nothing against pro-Umno individuals.
We therefore call on the authorities to act fairly and professionally, and not to misuse their powers for Umno’s political ends which are clearly aimed at eroding our nation’s inter-ethnic/ inter-religious relations and dividing the nation between Malay/Muslim and other ethnic group/religion and bolstering Umno’s credential as the “defender” of Islam and Malays. — by Lawyers for Liberty
Update: 11.33am, 18 Aug 2013 — Lawyers for Liberty adviser is Eric Paulsen