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Monday, September 19, 2016

Jeff Ooi was rude, but that’s not a crime

The Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said today that Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi should turn himself in over his insensitive remarks on Twitter. This was in reference to the DAP lawmaker’s “adios” tweet following the death of PAS spiritual leader Haron Din.

Of course, Ooi has his defence that saying “adios” is somehow polite. Some of his defenders have gone so far as to linguistically link the phrase to Greek, for some awkward reason. They even went as far as using a screenshot of a tabloid front cover published back in September 1997 on the funeral of Princess Diana.

Look people, the Spanish formally offer their condolences by saying “mi mas sentido pesame” (which translates to “my deepest condolences”), with “adios” more akin to something Antonio Banderas would say before shooting a drug lord and walking off into the sunset.

Had anyone actually bothered to ask someone from Spain, or anyone who took it as a third language, they would have been able to put this issue to rest.

Either way, it does not warrant the actions of police intimidation. Ooi was rude, but that is not a crime.

Thus, the question now to the IGP and the police is – just what exactly is the charge?

It is not an “insult to Islam” when someone uses the wrong phrase when offering their condolences.

Meanwhile, Ali Tinju is also being probed for issuing a death threat against Bersih 2.0’s Maria Chin Abdullah, and this is a rational move by the police.

Ali Tinju threatened to cause bodily harm to Chin, while Ooi was just being an insensitive blowhard, who is obviously not fluent in Spanish.

Ooi’s postings on social media shows he is just not worldly enough to actually filter his words. And quite honestly, I believe the prevalence of gaffes among Malaysian politicians is not exactly news – be it by the DAP or even Umno.

Of course, I cannot say the same for some other commenters. And while insulting a religion (any religion) is legally wrong, there seems to be bias in being totally indifferent when it is made against any religion other than Islam, wouldn’t you say?

As much as I expect a tit-for-tat over the comments when the next politician dies, again, it isn’t a crime. The police should not be bothered to act against political correctness and moronic statements because Malaysians by and large should grow up and show some maturity.

But then again, that would be too much to expect from a society that thrives on pseudoscience, to the point that fresh beef reacting to salt is somehow seen as a miracle of Allah by some on social media.

We should not enforce against rudeness, it is part and parcel of freedom of expression and speech. We can condemn them, or in the case of politicians – choose not to vote for them or even call on the political party to censure them and remove them from the ballot in the next general election.

It is not for the police or Khalid to take action. The police are not supposed to take action against emotions. They are supposed to maintain order and stop people from causing bodily harm and overreacting to the point of violence.

But then again, those would apply to a mature society – which we are obviously not.

By Hafidz Bahrom, FMT reader

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