Govt urged to set up special task force to defuse religious issues


KUALA LUMPUR: The government has been urged to set up a special task force to promptly deal with religious issues to prevent it from escalating, says Datuk Seri Dr Wee Jeck Seng.

The MCA vice-president said the National Unity Ministry, Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs), Home Ministry, Communications Ministry, Digital Ministry and other government agencies need to establish a special task force to handle complaints and disputes related to religious co-existence.

"With this task force, the authorities can closely monitor discussions on social media regarding religious issues and promptly take necessary action to prevent the situation from spiralling out of control.

"We can avoid situations where individuals are subjected to public scrutiny, trial by media or even vigilante action.

"These situations have led to individuals taking the law into their own hands, resulting in boycotts, ostracism or even acts of sabotage, resulting in widespread fear and tension," he said in a statement on Monday (April 8).

Wee, who is also the Tanjung Piai MP, said authorities should take stringent action against those who intentionally spread misinformation.

"This will halt harmful practices that damage others.

"When an individual discovers any inappropriate religious incident or content, they can lodge a complaint to the task force's hotline, which should then handle the matter," he said.

Wee said there was no benefit to subjecting the incident to a public trial on the Internet.

"This may cause the issue to become distorted, leading to ethnic and religious strain.

On a recent issue of a contentious shoe logo, he said: "This controversy arose because someone questioned the related pattern online.

"Before the matter could be handed over to the police, this particular shoe store was already subjected to public scrutiny online.

"They have since formally apologised, withdrawn the product and offered refunds," he shared.

However, he said that the company had already issued an explanation that the logo was not to belittle or insult any religion or belief.

"Who then will be responsible for the losses incurred? Will those who initially hyped up the issue face legal consequences?" he asked.

Wee said certain politicians, including Umno Youth chief Dr Muhamad Akmal Saleh, should be taken to task for exploiting the situation for political gain.

"Threatening to boycott a convenience store if an explanation was not provided within 24 hours and behaving as if they are law enforcement officials is excessive.

"One cannot help but wonder if anyone would dare invest in Malaysia if similar incidents keep recurring here.

"As long as individuals mala fide (with bad intent) deliberately raise doubts or make unsubstantiated accusations online, any enterprise or business could suffer. Such a climate will discourage foreign investment," he said.

Wee said religion is a highly sensitive issue that everyone should understand, exercise goodwill and accommodate.

"However, this does not mean that individuals can act arbitrarily in the name of religion, or even resort to vigilantism, taking action beyond the boundaries of justice and law enforcement.

"This would contravene societal stability in a nation governed by the rule of law," he said.

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