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G25 calls for restraint over socks issue

WE commend the statement made by the Mufti of Penang, Datuk Seri Wan Salim Mohd Noor, urging restraint in commenting on the incident involving socks bearing the word “Allah” at a KK Mart in Bandar Sunway.

Regardless of the perpetrator, the incident has unfortunately resulted in disproportionate repercussions with a racial slant.

Malaysians should heed the advice of the learned Mufti of Penang. He rightly deems calls for boycotting non-Muslim businesses in the aftermath of the incident, as reported in the media, as “overboard and against Islamic teachings”.

The learned Mufti also advised: “Punishing non-Muslim traders as enemies or traitors is a cruel act, whereas Islam calls for (its believers) to uphold justice regardless of religious and racial background.” (Scoop, March 23)

According to media reports, the police have investigated the matter and have submitted their investigation papers to the Attorney-General’s Chambers. The public, including politicians, should let the authorities complete their work instead of making irresponsible comments that can incite racial feelings in the country.

As a multireligious and multiracial country where race and religion are politically sensitive matters, all sections of society must help to keep public emotions under control when there is an incident that may threaten the peace and stability of the country.

When such issues arise, it is up to the government to take the lead and quickly reassure the public that the issue will be investigated and addressed appropriately. This is to prevent emotions from escalating and unscrupulous politicians from taking advantage of the unfortunate incident for political mileage as we saw happened in this case, resulting in threats and risks to workers’ livelihoods, safety and reputation despite the apology by KK Mart Group.

We in G25 abhor mob justice. Therefore, we urge the authorities to take swift action against the vigilante groups who took matters into their own hands by unlawfully intimidating Chiok Wai Loong and Ricky Shane Cagampang, separately, forcing them to confess to comments they made online.

We have established laws and law enforcement authorities to address such issues. There is no place for mob justice in this country. We are governed by the Rule of Law.

Stern action must be taken to deter such irresponsible elements from taking place in the future.

We are deeply disturbed that both individuals were brought before the courts and dealt with without legal representation. This is particularly concerning given the imposition of heavy sentences upon them.

Justice requires that they be accorded the benefit of having a counsel to speak on their behalf in light of the severity of the sentences.

The sensitivity of the matter makes it all the more necessary that the accused persons have the full protection of the law. The Legal Aid Department and the Bar Council Legal Aid Centre provide free legal services to accused persons intending to plead guilty before the courts. Therefore, it is tragic how the two persons were brought before the courts without any lawyer to make a plea in mitigation on their behalf.

The government and political leaders must also consider their reactions to such incidents and how they will affect the much-needed investment in our country. If a few pairs of socks, regardless of intention, are enough to close a business and receive threats, local and foreign investors will certainly look elsewhere for more stability for their businesses.

G25 Malaysia