Wednesday, May 12, 2010

'Allah' ban: Police presumption feeds on itself

THE SIBU BY-ELECTION : In paraphrase of Lord Action's aphorism on power it could be said that presumption begets presumption and, unchallenged, the constantly presumptuous soon become a new power unto themselves.

NONESarawak CID chief Huzir Mohamed was yesterday reported to have warned campaigners in the Sibu by-election to stay clear of the 'Allah' issue.

No prizes for guessing out of which book of presumption Huzir took a leaf.

Barely three weeks ago, Huzir's boss, inpector-general of police Musa Hassan, had the gall to say that if the public were unduly alarmed by the shooting death of Aminulrasyid Amzah, he could pull his men off the streets.

NONEAs far as we know, Musa's boss, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, did not upbraid him, as he ought to, for the presumption.

Now the virus has spread and a satrap has taken after the master.

If debate on the use of the term 'Allah' is indeed proscribed, several publishers would have gotten into problems under various laws because the letters' column of their publications in recent months would have been deemed to have been in contravention of these laws.

That no such thing has occurred is because so such construction could be made that the ongoing debate is in violation of such laws.

On what basis then could like-minded debaters on the hustings in Sibu be warned, on pain of prosecution, to stay clear of the issue?

Home minister cannot be relied upon

Looking at the plaintive cry of SUPP president George Chan that the 'Allah' matter is a Peninsula phenomenon that should not be dragged into Sarawak where it has never been an issue, one wonders what the hubbub is all about in the first place.

NONESurely what this says about our polity where what is sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander cannot be complimentary.

At least there's some justification for the above phenomenon on the basis of different histories and cultures.

But presumptuous construction of the extent of police authority is not something that can be taken lightly.

Unfortunately, the home minister cannot be relied upon to stop undue presumption by the police.

Perhaps he will wait until September when there will be a changing of the guard with Musa's retirement.

But by that time, the phenomenon could become a hydra, sprouting new heads even as individual ones are sawn off.

Lord Acton's aphorism about power's corruptive effects is not easily confined.

[Source: Terence Netto/Malaysiakini]

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