Get Tough on Domestic Terrorists and End selective lawlessness

(Petrol bomb thrown at KK Mart in Kuching, the third such incident in the space of a week and the first in East Malaysia (FMT)


By Tuaran MP Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau

KOTA KINABALU: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has been working hard to promote investment, trade and tourism because Malaysia cannot afford an economic crisis of recession, hyperinflation or growing inequality.

But the economic crisis can only be avoided if we do not have political crisis and security crisis. The protest and boycott against KK Super Mart over the 14 pairs of offensive socks out of a total of 18,000 pairs is a political crisis.

The political crisis shatters market confidence and requires a political solution, which may take behind-the-scene negotiation for some settlement, and in the words of Singapore researcher Ariel Tan, put to the test Anwar’s “bridging skills”.
Its escalation to the level of domestic terrorism – so far two KK outlets in Bidor, Perak (March 26)  and Kuantan, Pahang (March 30)  have been bombed with Molotov cocktail in four days and not a single suspect is caught till today – turns it into a security crisis.
The security crisis is more damaging because violence begets violence, and impunity also encourages violence. If a housing estate has many broken windows, it sends a message that no one cares, and more windows would be broken.

KK is only the latest episode in the security crisis. The first Molotov cocktail attack in 2024 burned down the home of YB Ngeh Koo Ham on January 10. Ngeh and his wife who were sleeping inside could have been killed if they were not woken up by passers-by.
The security crisis is selective lawlessness. The lawlessness is selective because we do not have a total breakdown in law and order.
It is not caused by weak laws. It is selective because not all crimes are equally tolerated. The Police and the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) were magnificently efficient in arresting and prosecuting two individuals for insulting Islam online, but three attacks by Molotov Cocktail in three months appeared to not get the same attention and dedication, as if in-person terrorism is lesser crime than online blasphemy.
The terrorist attack against Ngeh was investigated only for ‘mischief by fire’ (Section 435 of the Penal Code) which carries only a maximum jail term of 14 years, instead of ‘terrorism’ (Section 130B of the Penal Code) which mandates a jail term of 7-30 years.
Will the two cases of KK bombing be investigated under Section 130B. I eagerly await enlightenment by IGP Tan Sri Razarudin Husain and his Deputy Dato’ Sri Ayob Khan bin Mydin Pitchay who once headed the Police’s counter-terrorism branch.
The public deserves to be assured that Malaysia is safe from terrorist attacks, whether by ‘lone wolves’ or terrorist cells.
After the second bombing of KK outlet in Kuantan, which was condemned by His Royal Highness Sultan Abdullah of Pahang, both PM Anwar Ibrahim and Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution had spoken. However, their statements raises an alarming question: is the Government lumping together the political crisis and the security crisis?
PM Anwar reminded all parties to not take matters into their own hands, elaborating that “this is a peaceful country. Do not use racial or religious issues to disrupt order in the country. I have also instructed the police to not compromise at all in this matter.”
Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution said in a statement, “I am inviting those who were pushing the boycott to shoulder the responsibility too by calming the situation and stop instigating the public.”
Notwithstanding the PM’s instruction to the police, his reminder and the Home Minister’s invitation appears to me as ‘moral persuasion’ to de-escalate the political crisis. While welcomed, such calls could have come two weeks earlier to be effective.
More disturbingly, what would happen to the ‘security crisis’ if the boycott and bombing stop? Would it be effectively ‘no further action’ to the two bombed KK outlets, as how the terrorist attempt on the lives of Ngeh and his wife now appears to be – no one charged after two and half months?
Many peace-loving Malaysians want Akmal to be arrested and charged, but this is barking up the wrong tree.
Akmal’s boycott campaign is detrimental to Malaysia’s economy but that is a political sin, not a criminal offence. It is his right to call for boycott, and any consumer’s decision to follow or defy his call.
Most importantly, Akmal would not have said anything that explicitly instigates acts of terrorism for himself to be criminally implicated.
All seasoned politicians would be too smart to do that. There would not be a prima facie case against him.
To charge him under the Sedition Act, which PH has condemned before coming to power, would be politically disastrous. It would only make Akmal a greater hero for Malay nationalists. And when the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) hesitates to even charge PAS president Hadi Awang and two others for sedition, forget about Akmal.
What peace-loving Malaysians should do is to press the Police and the AGC to investigate, arrest and charge those who executed the Molotov cocktail attacks in three cases (under Section 130B, Penal Code) and those who knowingly incited or promoted such terrorist acts (under Section 130G, Penal Code which also carries maximum 30-year imprisonment).
Malaysia sinks into this selective lawlessness because effective impunity is enjoyed by not just politicians and political activists who instigate ethno-religious conflicts, but also by most incited or provoked netizens who hurt or harm others.
Except for few who were jailed for insulting Islam, most netizens who spread hatred or even carried out terrorist acts believe that they are untouchable. That includes those who threw Molotov cocktails at KK Marts and Ngeh’s home and remain free.
If the Police will get tough on the terrorists and their abetters in these three cases, have them charged and convicted, the security crisis would naturally resolve.
Once the message gets through that domestic terrorism would not be tolerated even in the name of religion, it would take the wind out of Akmal’s sails. PM Anwar Ibrahim, this is the time for leadership. Get tough on democratic terrorists. Enough of moral persuasion. Actions please.

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