Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Two weeks ago Johor Bahru was awash with rumours about SMS’s which warned that on National Day racial violence would occur in Pasir Gudang. Whatever the initial SMS was, the malicious falsehood sooned morphed into various variations. These SMS’s were enough to cause uneasiness among the public.

The police and particularly Johor Acting Police Chief Datuk Mohamad Mokhtar Mohamad Sharif must be commended for the quick and swift action they have taken and also for arresting four suspects (so far) who allegedly had spread the inflammatory text messages.

It is also comforting to note that Prime Minister Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi views seriously the transmission of racial incitement through SMS and email and warns that punitive actions would be taken against. However concern by itself is not enough.

Last year an SMS made it rounds alleging that Azhar Mansor was going to baptise Malay children at a Church in Ipoh. That SMS was enough for some ignorant groups to mobilize a mob to descend at the entrance of the Church and terrorise the Sunday Catholic churchgoers.

In the aftermath, police took statements among others from the Mufti of Perak who alleged that a woman had met him and told of the baptism. Pursuant thereto a woman was arrested.

Till today the public and particularly the Catholics wonder what has happened to this case and why this woman has yet to be charged.

Thus, the Prime Minister’s warning about stern action against rumour-mongers would remain just mere talk and hollow speak when the woman arrested in connection with the baptism SMS till today has yet to be charged. One has to walk the talk.

Norman Fernandez.