Rafidah: Time to move on after street rallies

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PETALING JAYA: Now that all frustrations have been vented out, it is time Malaysians unite to ensure that the country realise Vision 2020, said veteran Umno politician Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz.

Her call comes after two massive street rallies in the capital over the last 20 days by Bersih 4 and Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu – where supporters of both sides were allowed to voice their grouses and frustrations.

“Now that people have got what irks them out of their hair, off their chest and have somewhat been able to rid of whatever geram (frustrations) they might have, is it now time for all of us to gather our thoughts and think through our way forward together as Malaysians?” she said in her latest Facebook posting.

The Government, she added, must put serious efforts in galvanising political and community leaders on the need to prioritise national harmony and to go beyond mere slogans.

As for social organisations, she said they should continue to dismantle social and other barriers to forge a sense of national oneness and pride.

On the private sector, Rafidah said: “Please continue to have confidence in this country, think over the long term, not the aberrations that tarnish our image at some point or other.”

Meanwhile, civil society activists and the country’s human rights body said the right to peaceful assembly was not an excuse for Malaysians to insult other races or defy police.

The G25 group spokesman Datuk Noor Farida Mohd Ariffin said she defended the right of assembly but that it must be peaceful.

“The fact is there were racial undertones, video clips of people inciting racial hatred and making hateful remarks against others particularly the Chinese.

“These clearly fall under the Sedition Act, so I hope the police will investigate and charge those responsible,” said Noor Farida.

Universiti Teknologi Mara Emeritus Professor of Law Prof Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi said despite some incidents, the two gatherings showed that Malaysians were able to assemble peacefully.

He said a balance must be kept between the right to assemble and sticking to the law.

Asli Centre of Public Policy Studies chairman Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam said it was unfortunate that some of the participants behaved badly and had confronted the police who were there to protect all citizens and preserve law and order.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) singled out the “irresponsible and confrontational” actions of several participants who were inciting lawlessness and disorderly behaviour by flaunting racially-charged placards, and uttering slogans that promoted racial or religious hatred.

“Such behaviour, in the commission’s opinion, constitutes the intentional provocation of violence which cannot be condoned and must be appropriately dealt with,” Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam said in a statement. – The Star Online

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