FOUR suspected terrorists who had planned to create mayhem during Ramadan – to assassinate several high-profile individuals and attack houses of worship – were nabbed in a series of operations last week.

The four Islamic State (IS) sympathisers had also wanted to avenge the death of fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim who died after sustaining injuries during the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple riots in Selangor last November.

Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador said the four were picked up by the federal police’s Counter Terrorism Department at various locations since the beginning of May.

“One of the group’s main objectives was to avenge the death of fireman Adib.

“They were planning to kill high-profile individuals whose identities we cannot reveal as it is very sensitive.

“The group had also planned bomb attacks at entertainment outlets and houses of worships in the Klang Valley during Ramadan.

“We seized six improvised explosive devices (IED) from one of the suspects,” Hamid told a press conference.

He said the operation took place on May 5 and May 7.

“The first man we detained on May 5 was the mastermind. He is apprehended in Kuala Berang Terengganu. He planned to bomb temples and churches as well as entertainment outlets.

“We seized a pistol from him and six EIDs. The bombs were smuggled from a neighbouring country.

“The second arrest was made on May 7 in Kuala Lumpur where we apprehended a Rohingya with a refugee status. This man admitted to support Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army and has the intention to attack the Myanmar embassy.

“The third arrest was on the same day in Subang Jaya where we detained an Indonesian man, and the last arrest was in Jalan Klang Lama involving another Rohingya man aged 27.

“All four suspects communicated via WhatsApp and they received instruction from a Malaysian national who is still in Syria,” said Hamid.

He later said that the group of four men was established in January.

Hamid added that police are currently looking for three more members of the group who have since gone into hiding.

“We are tracking three more men. They belong to this group. We are looking for Syazni Mahzan from Bidong Kedah, Nurul Azim Azizan also from Bidong Kedah and Fathir Thir, an Indonesian, but his last address was in Banting Selangor,” he said.

All four were detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act. -THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT

50 years after May 13, racial ties now worse, say analysts

RACE relations 50 years after the May 13 riots have not improved, even in a new Malaysia under Pakatan Harapan, as politicians continue to play up race and religion, said analysts.

In fact, racial ties are “worse than ever”, analysts told The Malaysian Insight.

“Race relations then were nothing like what they are today. There’s a huge difference. They are worse now than they ever were,”   said sociologist and Suaram adviser Dr Kua Kia Soong.

The racial riots followed the May 10, 1969 general election which saw opposition parties DAP and Gerakan gaining more seats while the Alliance, the precursor of Barisan Nasional, won less than half the popular vote.

An emergency was then declared with laws prohibiting the questioning of the Malays’ special status and governing institutions passed.

The government then implemented the New Economic Policy (NEP), an affirmative action plan to counter the Chinese’s economic dominance in favour of the Malays.

The policy was backed by Article 153 of the federal constitution that guaranteed preferential treatment for Malays and led to the quota system reserving 30% Bumiputera equity in public-listed companies, discounts for house and car purchases, among others.

Kua said the NEP should have ended in 1990 but now it is “never-ending”, like the Education Ministry’s matriculation programme for pre-university students, which has a 90% quota for Bumiputeras.

Critics recently said the quota was discriminatory and detrimental to Bumiputera students themselves but the government handled the issue by adding another 15,000 placements while retaining the quota.

Sociologist and Suaram adviser Dr Kua Kia Soong says Pakatan Harapan can do many things right for the country but is instead pandering to Malay supremacists. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, May 13, 2019.
Sociologist and Suaram adviser Dr Kua Kia Soong says Pakatan Harapan can do many things right for the country but is instead pandering to Malay supremacists. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, May 13, 2019.

Instead of May 13 becoming a lesson, the darkest day in Malaysia’s history has become a warning against any challenge to the status quo, Kua said.

“You want to ratify ICERD or the Rome Statute. They say it will lead to another May 13.”

PH wanted to ratify the United Nations’ International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC).

But Umno, PAS and Malay rights groups claimed that ICERD and the Rome Statute would jeopardise the Malay rulers, Islam and the Malays. The backlash forced the government to cancel its plan.

Considering the recent issues, Kua said racial ties are not improving under PH.

While the government could have done many things, Kua said, it pandered to Malay supremacists instead.

“One of the simple things they could have done was recognising the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) which was a pledge in the Pakatan Harapan GE14 manifesto. But they can’t even deliver that.”

Pupils of independent Chinese high schools take the UEC as a pre-university certificate.

Malay educationists and rights groups have always been against the UEC’s recognition, claiming that the certificate does not follow the national education policy and could jeopardise unity.

The thing now is, Kua said, PH has become BN 2.0, with DAP turning into MCAbecause it is not as vocal about championing the issues as it did when it was an opposition party.

Greater ethnic divide

Professor Denison Jayasooria from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA) said post-GE14, political discourses are now centred on race and religion because most Malay-majority seats are held by opposition parties Umno and PAS.

“The talk in by-elections and the debates in Parliament have led to greater ethnic divide and suspicion among the various communities.

“PH has not confronted this head on, nor has it given leadership to change the national narrative because Bersatu and Amanah need to win over the Malay base. This is the reality of politics.”  

Denison also said PH seems to practise BN’s ethnic relations model, with PH leaders like Anwar Ibrahim affirming a Malaysia for all Malaysians while ensuring that the Malays will not lose out at the same time.

KITA deputy director Professor Kartini Aboo Talib said Malaysian society still faces social deficits like ethnic, religious, language, spatial, inter-generational gap and other issues that can incite prejudices and conflict.

Participants at the Ummah rally earlier this month. Many Malays fear losing their special position if Malaysia becomes a signatory of international treaties. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abdul Halim, May 13, 2019.
Participants at the Ummah rally earlier this month. Many Malays fear losing their special position if Malaysia becomes a signatory of international treaties. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abdul Halim, May 13, 2019.

She cited the Allah issue several years ago, which involved the use of the Arabic word “Allah” (God) in the Bible, and the Seafield Hindu temple riots in November last year as examples.

Both issues were unrelated to religion, Kartini said, but were ill-managed through the media, leading to “awkwardness” in our multi-ethnic society.

Although there is cohesion among Malaysians when it comes to sports, cultural and religious festivals, and food, she said, Malaysians still have moments of differences that require bargaining, negotiations and mediation to avoid conflict.

“We have not achieved unity, which is still a dream for Malaysians. Our society’s narrative is social cohesion, where we acknowledge our unresolved social deficits.”

Kartini said the policies of positive discrimination under the NEP were necessary to create a more level-playing field for Malays and Bumiputera, who were left behind, and for societal restructuring.

“The government (in 1969) realised that the economic gap and the structure of our multi-ethnic society had triggered the conflict.

“At present, of course, the NEP needs to be reviewed and I think non-Malays deserve to have their fair share.”

National unity  

Moving forward, Denison said PH should seriously review the National Unity Consultative Council’s (NUCC) recommendations.

Among them were increasing the levels of consultation between ethnic and religious groups, increasing democratic literacy and political maturity and setting up a non-judicial mechanism for mediation and conflict resolution.

Denison added that there is urgent need to revamp the National Unity and Integration Department by putting it under the prime minister or to set up a national unity commission with responsible citizens, not politicians, as members.

“It must have the necessary mediation powers. Anti-hate speech laws should also be in place to address such issues.”

He also proposed a parliamentary select committee on national unity to enable MPs to monitor and censor their peers for breaching harmony.

Kartini also said the government needs to establish a neutral and independent mediation unit to manage differences and social deficits, and an active platform for the multi-ethnic community to integrate and live in harmony.

“Our societal DNA is accommodation, not assimilation. We should support it and create our nation of intent together in the spirit of unity in diversity.

“We should not be lodging police reports every time a cross-cultural issue occurs,” Kartini added. – THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT