Ipoh Mayor Sirajuddin has catapulted Ipoh onto the world stage in getting reported by CNN yesterday but with SARS-like effect to drive away tourists not only from Perak but Malaysia with image of increasing social intolerance and moral policing arresting couples for holding hands in public
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Friday): Ipoh Mayor Datuk Sirajuddin Salleh has catapulted Ipoh onto the world stage in getting reported by CNN yesterday but with SARS-like effect to drive away tourists not only from Perak but Malaysia with the image of increasing social intolerance and moral policing arresting couples for holding hands in public.
The CNN report, headlined “Malaysian city fines hand-holding couples”, broad-casted to the world that “Couples in the Malaysian city of Ipoh risk getting slapped with a fine if they hold hands in public…in a drive to keep the city ‘morally clean’”.
Is Sirajuddin seriously suggesting that Ipoh was “morally unclean” until his appointment as Ipoh Mayor six months ago? It is most shocking and outrageous that the Perak State government and Ipoh Municipal Councillors had allowed the Ipoh Mayor to cast such a defamatory slur on the reputation of Ipoh without being challenged. Although the Perak Mentri Besar, Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli Ghazali announced on Wednesday the suspension of the misguided and unlawful moral policing under the Parks (Ipoh Municipal Council) By-Laws 1985, great damage has been done.
Perak DAP leaders had been in the forefront opposing the misguided and unlawful moral policing by the Ipoh Municipal Council and will provide legal assistance to all victims of the latest abuse of powers by local authorities in the country – trespassing on the people’s moral and civic rights.
The increase in the incidents of such high-handed local government actions in various parts of the country is a matter of grave concern, such as the new ruling implemented this year by the Johore Bahru municipalities requiring the written consent of Muslim neighbours before applications for renewal or new dog licences would be issued, the ban on sale of pork in open-air markets by the Kajang Municipal Council, the removal of liquor and beer signages and advertisements in coffeeshops and restaurants and the crackdown on Karaoke and other entertainment outlets in the various Selangor municipalities.
The Cabinet next Wednesday should put a stop to the increasing incidence of insensitivities of the local authorities as well as certain state governments to the multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural characteristics of Malaysia and halt all such abuses and excesses of power whether from misguided and unlawful moral policing or trampling on the sensitivities of different ways of life in the country.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman