PETALING JAYA: An anti-extremism group has voiced fear that the brain drain from the country will worsen if legal authorities are not serious in acting against those who insult minority faiths.
Komuniti Muslim Universal (KMU) founder Aizat Shamsuddin said the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) should take heed of an allegation by the Global Human Rights Federation (GHRF) that there had been inaction in cases of insult to faiths other than Islam.
Aizat said the failure to protect the religious freedoms of minorities could be a factor in emigration.
He said members of religious minority groups who emigrate would typically head for countries with a much more accepting society and functioning rule of law.
“Many examples of emigration like this can be seen from countries that are facing inter-ethnic and inter-religious conflicts,” he said, citing Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and Myanmar.
“Selective action from the authorities can also contribute to the disaffection and grievances within the minority communities which can negatively impact social cohesion and public trust in the state institution.”
Recently, GHRF spokesman Peter John Jaban said there appeared to be a double standard in handling cases of insult to religions.
He claimed that immediate action was often taken against those accused of insulting Islam but not against those insulting other faiths.
Citing the case of Wan Asshimah Kamaruddin, who allegedly called for the desecration of churches in Sarawak, he said 61 police reports had been lodged against her for a video she posted in March 2021.
The AGC took action only after members of the public filed a civil suit this year, he added.
However, Ryan Chua of Pusat Komas said it was unlikely that the alleged double standard was a major factor in the brain drain phenomenon.
“I think it is a little bit too far-fetched to make the link to that extent,” he told FMT.
“We at Pusat Komas believe that institutionalised racism and favourable treatment given to a particular race, to a certain extent, may have contributed to the brain drain. But we need to understand that brain drain does not involve only non-Malays.
“Malays are also migrating overseas to seek brighter opportunities. We can see that there are a lot of them. We also need to look at their social class.”
But Chua called for action against those who insult minority faiths.
“The AGC needs to remember its function to serve all Malaysians and not just one race,” he said.
He also urged Putrajaya to form the National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission proposed by the National Unity Consultative Council when Pakatan Harapan was in power.
In 2020, the national unity ministry said a bill on the commission would not be tabled, claiming that there were already enough laws to deal with issues related to race and religion.
Aizat suggested that the AGC and the police explore a non-punitive alternative approach, such as requiring perpetrators to face aggrieved parties and apologise publicly.
“This is so the perpetrator will understand the impact of his words against the victims and show remorse,” he said. “It will also mainstream mediation in the community to encourage dialogue between disputing parties without going through the court process that can be endless and one-way.”