Contradict statement by Anwar Ibrahim and Nik Aziz

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There are days when it must seem to Pakatan Rakyat as if Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is an Umno plant.

Controversy erupted over the weekend as photographs of then-unidentified persons bearing a different flag in place of the Jalur Gemilang appeared at the same time as a pamphlet arguing for discarding our national flag.

In a separate, apparently related incident, a video appeared of Bersih-aligned protesters took to making obscene gestures at and attacking photographs of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and Election Commission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Yusof.

Amidst the announcements that one of the bearers of the alternative flag had been identified and reports that the police are considering charging those involved under the soon-to-be-defunct Sedition Act, Pakatan’s component parties spoke with a single voice in denying culpability for the incident despite clear links between the act and their rhetoric.

A single voice, as always with a single exception: Anwar.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Anwar took the opportunity to muse on the appropriateness of waving the controversial flag, the Sang Saka Malaya. “Sang Saka, according to these youth’s interpretation, should be introduced because this is also one of … the flags that was proposed by those who had fought for the nation,” he said.

“What’s wrong with the younger generation knowing history, knowing Sang Saka?”

History records that those who had fought for the nation ultimately chose the Jalur Gemilang.

Anwar fancies himself an intellectual, so perhaps he was simply musing rather than pronouncing policy — after all, Anwar has been at great pains for some time to avoid pronouncing policy. Nevertheless, he managed to thwart all of the efforts his party and coalition have made to distance themselves from the disgraceful incidents.

Beyond the separation pleaded by Azmin Ali over the weekend, the head of PKR Youth Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin denied any involvement or support for the incidents on Monday. He was following remarks Sunday by PAS Spiritual Advisor and Menteri Besar of Kelantan Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, who wasted no time saying that PAS had no part in the events.

Nik Aziz was particularly vehement when discussing those who made rude gestures at the photographs. “This is not the work of Malays and Muslims. They are neither Malays nor Muslims.

“This is very shameful and saddening, the photograph that I saw was not of a Malay (the perpetrators of the act). We Muslims are taught not to disturb others. If others do it to us, we will get angry.”

He was also explicit about the alleged plan to replace the flag: “It not easy to replace (the national flag), have to discuss for years. What is our intention of changing the flag … our flag has already been accepted by the world, there is no need to smear to our flag.”

Pakatan Rakyat leaders are not known for good message coordination, but on an issue with so much emotional reaction from the rakyat, would it have been so much effort for someone to ring up Anwar and chat?

In one typical move, Anwar has managed to throw doubt on the Opposition pact’s claims not to support changing the flag, nor to support the flying of the Sang Saka Malaya during the events at issue.

This has heightened importance because the police are now considering an investigation under the soon-to-be-repealed Sedition Act.

Bukit Aman CID director Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Zinin said that the actions of the protesters bearing the Sang Saka Malaya and desecrating the photographs at the Merdeka Eve celebration could threaten peace and harmony in the country. He noted that the flag event was being investigated under Section 4(1)(a) of the Sedition Act 1948, and the the picture incident, under Sections 290 and 504 of the Penal Code.

A conviction under Section 290 can result in a fine up to RM400, while a conviction under Section 504 can lead to jail terms of up to two years, a fine, or both. A conviction under Section 4(1)(a) of the Sedition Act leads to a mandatory jail term of three years or a fine of up to RM5,000 for first offenders, which is subsequently raised to a five year imprisonment for repeated offences.

National symbols should be above politics. If even Nik Aziz and the rest of Pakatan Rakyat understand the importance of keeping national symbols, then the Opposition Leader should be content to allow the police to investigate and as needed charge those involved. – The Choice