Ah...too tired yesterday, but since there has been swarms of articles in regarding to yesterday's aborted forum on Muslim conversion, you might want to read the on the scene story yesterday to give the accurate picture. Take note that not all of what you read in the media can be accurate.
1. I came to the place at 7.30 a.m as I was advised by someone the night before to come before 8 a.m. At the time of arrival, there were 5 police cars, including one van, 15 police personnel and a few more handful of SB people in plain clothes.
2. At 7.50 a.m, a small jeep with 6 FRU men arrived and the vehicle parked at UOB bank, then more police personnel and 3 more police cars arrived there.
3. Yes, I was with a few other bloggers, and we had breakfast nearby. The mob started at around 8.30 a.m when more people from Muslim groups arrived at the exterior of the Bar council building. Notable statements on the banners include :"Don't play with fire" or "Don't challenge Islam."
4. Originally, the forum was slated to end at 1 p.m. From inside the building, while the forum is progressing, the numbers of the mob and the FRU swelled. At the beginning, the number of pressmen and police personnel outnumbered them, but towards the end, the mob outnumbered the police and the pressmen.
5. 9.30 a.m: Ambiga received an SMS by Abdullah Badawi himself: stop the forum by 10 a.m. She announced that the forum will have to be stopped early.
6. At that time, the first part was switched to the second part with discussions with selected panelists on the two famous Muslim conversion disputes.
6. Just 10 minutes before 10 a.m, a small mob led by Kulim MP Zulkifli Noordin and GPMS vice-president Jais Karim came when they were about to finish. The outside speech from the Malaysiakini video shows that they are to enter the building at 9.45 a.m.
Quoting and pic above from The Malaysian Insider:
Despite the heavy police escort, heated words were exchanged between some of the protesters and some members of the Bar Council. The word "monkey" was heard bandied about several times by both sides.
Calls for calm by the forum moderator, Zarizana Abdul Aziz, a lawyer from the Penang-based non-government organisation Women's Centre for Change, were ignored, as were calls from the floor for the protesters, hogging the central aisle, to sit down and not block the view of the forum panellists.
Then Professor Mehrun Siraj attempted to counter the man with a very strong eloquent remarks: "You represent Umno; I represent the Muslims! I'm ashamed by your behaviour! Islam does not condone this behaviour! Do not make use of Islam!" This could provoke a scuffle that GPMS tried to do but fortunately someone from BAR council intervened.
7. We left through the backdoor but the exit was blocked by some mob members. We had to wait until a policeman moved out first and controlled the mob before we could move.
Observations, Rants etc..
1. Forming the largest of the mob is GPMS, the UMNO proxy entity led by the Mamak, KJ's sleeping bedfellow Reezal Merican. These jokers are the ones that tend to be more on the violent end compared to PAS. Note the scuffle inside the auditorium was started by GPMS. Only extermist-level of the mob will have the guts to say like 'Babi', 'pengkhianat' and 'balik China'.
2. Notice the video by Malaysiakini entitled Rival Groups United in Protest. Note of the stark contrast of approach and speeches between PAS and UMNO. But then, PAS should not become the next UMNO if UMNO goes out otherwise everything goes back to square one.
3. The decision to abide to abort at 10 a.m shows that the BAR council is buckling under the pressure of government. Do you notice of another flip-flop here? Abdullah Badawi on Wednesday said that more inter-faith dialogues should be allowed to get both sides understand the whole picture. But then he's just opening the mouth and saying it without really meaning it.
4. What the protesters out there just only thinks that the forum is about Islam bashing. That's only one part of the picture and that's what many perceived. Based on the forum, the real picture is describing:
a) Family problems that arised when someone converts to Islam without knowledge of others.
b) The conflicting two sets of laws (syariah and civil) that makes people confused and the lines blur of which court has the jurisidaction to allow divorce cases and etc..
c) The kind of approach that the Religious Department goes like confiscating bodies and putting them in Muslim burial instead of the funeral methods based on their own faiths.
5. Many perceived that non-Muslims only attended the forum. Wrong. When I was watching the proceedings, there are a handful of normal Muslim citizens there as well. They were there because they are prepared to listen to the other side of the story, problems and effects from religion conversion. This is something that some reps should come and listen to their story, not just stay outside and bash people as if being misled by some who desired them to be misled. Nik Aziz has said in a press statement that there should be evaluation of logics of Muslim and Non-Muslim, a very high-level maturity required discussion between individuals or both parties. Should this be a good follow up?
6. The ones who initiated this is UMNO. PAS and other NGOs followed suit because (since UMNO has power over mainstream media) UMNO-controlled media will make remarks or chastise that other parties are not defending the rights of Malays and Islam. You can notice of how the mob behaved - split between moderate and extremist. You can know who is the moderate and who is the extremist. Check back my previous post here. UMNO has certainly repeated its cliches.
7. The problems happened because fear factor: judges are afraid to do what is right fearing of political remanding and persecution. Likewise it also happens to the police. If they start arresting UMNO people, they will face heavier persecution.
Kickdefella has just mentioned that the forum above is actually deliberately organized with the help of Abdullah Badawi - the ulterior motive is to deflect his attention off from his dismal showing. The move has been planned since the general elections. In his perspective, the forum will:
1. Distract his critics attention away from him.
2. Force both UMNO and PAS away from the attention of him and on the religion platform.
3. PAS and PKR becomes stuck in the middle.
4. See also point #6 of my rants.