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MP SPEAKS | Domestic terrorism must be nipped in the bud

MP SPEAKS | Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, Inspector-General of Police Razarudin Husain, and Deputy IGP Ayob Khan bin Mydin Pitchay who once headed the police’s counter-terrorism branch must act immediately to nip domestic terrorism in the bud, now that the third politically motivated arson has happened in three months before even the first quarter of 2024 passed.

This morning (March 30) at 5am, a KK Mart outlet in Sungai Isap in Kuantan, Pahang was firebombed.

Four days ago (March 26), at 5.35am, another KK super mart in Bidor, Perak was attacked with a Molotov cocktail.

On Jan 10, at around 3am, the house of Beruas MP Ngeh Koo Ham in Kampung Air Tawar, Perak, and his three cars were set on fire by a Molotov cocktail, while Ngeh and his wife were sleeping inside. They could have been burnt to death if they were not woken up by passers-by.

All of these attacks are acts of terrorism, which is defined by Section 130B(3) of Malaysia’s Penal Code as “an act or threat of action… if it (a) involves serious bodily injury to a person, (b) endangers a person’s life, (c) causes a person’s death, (d) creates a serious risk to the health or the safety of the public or a section of the public; (e) involves serious damage to property; (f) involves the use of firearms, explosives or other lethal devices;…”.

So, terrorists can be “lone wolves” and not necessarily members of groups.

Section 130C then provides for the punishments for terrorist acts: death if the act results in death, and otherwise, seven to 30 years in jail and a fine.

Further, Section 130G provides for a maximum 30-year jail term and fine for those who “knowingly incites or promotes the commission of a terrorist act”.

Peace-loving Malaysians should therefore report to the police or on social media any incitement of terrorist violence they encounter on WhatsApp, Facebook, or other social media.

Misplaced priorities

While our law is serious about terrorism, do we see the same seriousness in law enforcement?

On Jan 16, Perak police chief Mohd Yusri Hassan Basri reportedly said two suspects in the Molotov cocktail attack on Ngeh’s home would be charged the next day under Section 435 of the Penal Code for “mischief by fire” which carries a maximum jail term of 14 years.

I just checked with Ngeh and learned that, sadly, no one has been charged after two and a half months.

The fire at Ngeh Koo Ham’s home on Jan 10

I urge Razarudin to assure Malaysians that the three cases of Molotov cocktail bombing at KK Mart outlets and Ngeh’s home would be investigated under Sections 130B of the Penal Code.

The police should also investigate and charge anyone who had incited or promoted such acts. If two netizens could be swiftly caught, charged, and sentenced to six months in jail and a five-figure fine (problematically, without legal representation) for insulting Islam, surely the police can act swiftly on domestic terrorism unless firebombing is perceived as a lesser crime than 3R online insults.

Only when budding terrorists are being pursued with maximum seriousness, can we deter others from being copycats. Zero tolerance for domestic terrorism, even if executed by lone wolves, is important to stop the spiral of violence.

If anyone can enjoy effective impunity after committing terrorism in the name of religion, ethnicity, culture, language, or lifestyle, then political violence will become reciprocal.

Forget about attracting foreign investment, we will have a flight of domestic capital instead.

I appreciate Anwar’s relentless efforts to travel around the world for investment, trade, and tourism but unfortunately, his efforts would be in vain if Malaysia cannot provide the rule of law and political stability.

Lawlessness must not prevail

The last time Malaysia saw serial violence in the name of religion was 14 years ago when churches, mosques, and Gurdwara were burned or desecrated in January 2010, after rage was incited against the High Court’s “Allah” verdict.

The government and the police must get their logic right: suppressing 3R expression is only justified if it can prevent violence, don’t come down hard (and selectively) on 3R expressions while appearing soft on violence.

On this note, I call upon Sabah Chief Minister Hajiji Noor to secure the commitment of Sabah police chief Jauteh Dikun and make public that all KK Marts in Sabah would be protected from any terrorist attacks. Not even vandalism should be tolerated.

We Sabahans suffered political violence during dark days in the mid-1980s. We must not let lawlessness be imported or incited again. Sabah today must remain sane and safe no matter what madness or sleepfulness consumes Malaya.

Of course, I pray that sanity prevails in the entire Malaysia. Whatever our political opinion, we Malaysians must unite to condemn political violence and terrorism.

All coalitions and parties in the government - Pakatan Harapan, BN, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS), Warisan, Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM), Kesejahteraan Demokratik Masyarakat (KDM) - and in the opposition - Perikatan Nasional and Muda - must speak with one voice to denounce violence and terrorism, unafraid of any backlash from their radical supporters.

Perhaps more importantly, we need leaders from all religious and ethnic communities to collectively promote peace and denounce violence, which is against Islam as much as it is against Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, Taoism, animism and humanism.

Losing control of ourselves is not part of any civilisation or culture in Malaysia - be it Malay, Chinese, Indian, Sabahan or Sarawakian.

We must be unequivocal in getting the message across to all Malaysians - no matter how justified you feel your anger is, you have no right to harm lives or destroy properties.

We must make sure violence and terrorism - threatened or actualised - will never be “business as usual” in Malaysia. There is no winner in lawlessness.

WILFRED MADIUS TANGAU is Tuaran MP and Upko emeritus president.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.