Perkasa offended over Suaram’s human rights report

    Malay right-wing group Perkasa has hit out at Suaram for “demonising” the group in its Human Rights Report 2014 by saying that it, along with Isma, spread racial and religious hate speech.

    The Malaysian Insider – Wed, Jul 1, 2015

    Malay right-wing group Perkasa has hit out at Suaram for “demonising” the group in its Human Rights Report 2014 by saying that it, along with Isma, spread racial and religious hate speech.

    Perkasa said the human rights activists had arrived at the conclusion without studying the group’s objectives and aims, adding that it had always acted within the boundaries of the law.

    “That Suaram has chosen to single out Perkasa (with Isma) is clearly an effort to demonise an NGO which apparently Suaram has no in-depth knowledge of its real aims and objectives,” Perkasa secretary-general Syed Hassan Syed Ali said in a statement.

    He said Suaram’s failure to mention other NGOs in its report could be construed as the group being unfair in its evaluation of all NGOs, biased and having “unfounded views” of Perkasa.

    “There are two sides to the coin. ‘Hate speeches’ can be hateful and they can also be tolerable and acceptable. Depending on which side you are on!” wrote Syed Hassan.

    He said Perkasa could not be seen as spreading hate speech as its struggles were in line with the constitution, and it had never run afoul of the law.

    He added that in a democracy like Malaysia, any registered organisation, including Perkasa, had the right to speak up on issues and to conduct activities in support of its ideals and objectives as long as they were within the confines of the laws of the country.

    He said groups that deliberately challenged the constitution, including with articles that touched on the special position of the Malays, should be regarded as the culprits of hate speech.

    “It is in this light that Perkasa would urge Suaram to be fair and not be one-sided or influenced by other parties, groups or factions. In an educated society such as ours, it really does not take long for people to really know of one’s objectives and agendas,” said Syed Hassan.

    He warned Suaram that it, too, could be accused of hate speech if it failed to prove to the public that it was credible, honest and unbiased.

    He added that Suaram should show that it was a beacon of good democratic practices by being just, fair and academic in its reporting and actions.

    “False and biased reporting can be damaging, not only to the persons involved but it can have a negative impact and image to the government, the people and the country.

    “Suffice to say, failure to do so would render it to be unpatriotic. The damage inflicted would have a far reaching effect especially when Suaram has readers (and supporters) outside of Malaysia.”

    Last Wednesday, Suaram ‎highlighted Putrajaya’s inconsistency in dealing with the rise of racial and religious hate speech and with critical and dissenting views.

    The group in its 2014 annual report on the state of human rights in Malaysia also revealed six worrying trends that developed under the administration of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, and urged the government to immediately reform all archaic laws and enact necessary ones to protect human rights in the country.

    Suaram said the authorities tended to be silent and inactive when hate speech was made by groups such as Perkasa and Isma.

    “2014 saw an increase in racial and religious hate speech by right-wing groups, most notably Perkasa and Isma, which has been silently tolerated by the authorities,” said Suaram in its report.

    “This is in stark contradiction to critical voices and dissenting views with the draconian Sedition Act, in which authorities labelled such speeches as threatening public order. Ethnic relations have been further strained despite claims of commitment to moderation and tolerance by the prime minister at high profile international meeting.”