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

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(PenangFriday):  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