Pakatan MP: Zahid response to cow head incident 'irresponsible'

Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari says that the severed cow head left at the gates of RSN Rayer’s home this morning was likely an act of retaliation against the Penang lawmaker for being a ‘loose cannon’. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari says that the severed cow head left at the gates of RSN Rayer’s home this morning was likely an act of retaliation against the Penang lawmaker for being a ‘loose cannon’. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, June 28 ― A DAP lawmaker criticised Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today for saying the severed cow head incident at at RSN Rayer's house was the result of the Penang lawmaker being a “loose cannon”.

Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari said the Home Minister's remark was “irresponsible” as such an act of “sacrilege” was unjustifiable.

“Would Zahid say Ibrahim Ali deserved it if someone threw a pig’s head at his house for threatening to burn bibles?” Zairil said in a text message to The Malay Mail Online, referring to the president of Malay rights group Perkasa.

He added that Zahid should retract his remark and apologise.

The opposition have often accused Putrajaya of applying double standards when it comes to racially sensitive acts by pro-government Malay leaders, with the most notable case being the authorities’ failure to charge Ibrahim for threatening to burn bibles containing the word “Allah”.

They claimed the authorities are, however, quick to condemn and act against opposition leaders for issuing statements critical of the government.

Echoing Zairil’s view, PKR Nibong Tebal MP Sim Tze Sin said Zahid’s statement was akin to condoning hate crime and was unbecoming of a federal minister.

“I think it is not right for him to say something like that. It was clearly a provocative hate crime and as a Home Minister, he should be ordering an investigation and arrest the perpetrators instead.

“He is sending a wrong signal and blaming Rayer is not right. Whether you agree or not..I also believe Rayer may not be right but you cannot condone hate crimes,” he told The Malay Mail Online.

According to The Star Online today, Zahid, who is also Umno vice-president, expressed sympathy over the incident but added that it “is the price he (Rayer) has to pay if ‘mulut celupar’ (loose cannon).”

Zahid was likely referring to Rayer’s “celaka Umno” remarks in the state assembly last month, which has triggered outrage among the members of the ruling party.

“This is sending a wrong signal to the Hindu community especially when it is Ramadhan, a month for peace and unity,” Sim added, referring to Muslim’s holy fasting month which starts tomorrow.

Sim’s PKR colleague and Penang Deputy Chief Minister I Rashid Hasnon said Zahid should try to defuse the tension instead of making things worse by issuing such statements.

“He should not be saying that as a leader of the country..he should try to defuse the existing tension and not instigate things further,” the Pantai Jerejak state assemblyman told The Malay Mail Online.

Rayer, a Hindu, found the bloody head of a cow in front of his house at around 7am this morning as he was leaving to a temple for prayers.

In stark difference from Zahid, his Cabinet colleague Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai condemned the incident, saying the act could create unnecessary racial tension.

His DAP counterpart, secretary-general and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, echoed the view and called for Putrajaya’s intervention, saying the government should step in to halt the “climate of fear and language of violence” that led to such a barbaric act.

Lim pointed out that the act of dumping the severed head of a cow, an animal regarded as sacred to Hindus, at the gates of a lawmaker that professes the religion, should be condemned and rejected by all.

Rayer recently courted controversy over his “celaka, celaka, celaka Umno” remarks in last month’s state assembly sitting, sparking a demonstration by Umno Youth leaders who breached the state legislative assembly gate and stormed into the august hall.

Although they demanded that Rayer retract and apologise for his remark, the DAP assemblyman had refused to do so, insisting that he had only referred to three Umno leaders and not the whole party

Last Thursday, Rayer was due to be charged with sedition over his May 20 “celaka Umno” remark, but the Attorney-General had ordered the prosecutors to defer his case.

On the same day, 15 men were jointly charged under Section 448 of the Penal Code for intruding and trespassing into the state legislative assembly on May 21.

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