MCA veep proposes task force for action on religious issues

KUALA LUMPUR: Set up a special task force to promptly deal with religious issues to prevent further escalation, says MCA vice-president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Jeck Seng.

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

“This will mediate all disputes involving religious-sensitive issues as promptly as possible to prevent such topics from snowballing over the Internet.

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

“We can further avoid situations where individuals are subjected to public scrutiny, trial by media or even vigilante action,” he said.

These situations in which individuals take the law into their own hands, calling for boycotts, ostracism or even acts of sabotage had resulted in fear and tension, he said in a statement on Monday.

Wee, who is the Tanjung Piai MP, said the authorities should take stringent actions against those who intentionally circulate misinformation online.

“This will bring the harmful practice, which damages others, to a halt.

“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.

He cited the controversy over the sale of footwear which featured a design purportedly similar to the word “Allah” imprinted on its sole.

“This controversy arose because someone questioned the pattern online.

“Before the matter could be handed over to the police, the shoe store was subjected to public scrutiny.”

He said the company had issued an apology, withdrawn the product and offered refunds.

Since the company had clarified that it was not its intention to have a logo that sought to belittle or insult any religion or belief, Wee asked then who would be responsible for the losses incurred.

“Will those who initially hyped up the issue face legal consequences?” he asked.

Wee said certain politicians like Umno Youth chief Dr Muhamad Akmal Saleh should be taken to task for exploiting an earlier situation for political propaganda.

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

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

“As long as individuals with mala fide intentions 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 sensitive issue that should have the understanding and goodwill of the public.

No one should act arbitrarily in the name of religion, or even resort to vigilantism and take actions beyond the boundaries of justice and law enforcement, he said.

“This would contravene societal stability in a nation governed by the rule of law,” he added.

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