August 1st, 2009 by Hafiz Noor Shams
Pewaris, widely reported as the foremost pro-Internal Security Act group as the Act comes under heavy opposition on August 1, the date when massive protest is expected to take place in Kuala Lumpur. The ISA is a controversial piece of legislation that allows detention with trial.
Expressing support for the Act, even when the Act is abhorrent to the concept of individual liberty, is a person’s right to do so. Whether it is oxymoron or not, one has to be mindful that the transgression of liberty happens when there is actual trangression. Expression alone does not transgression.
But the Act is in force and indeed, the Act transgresses liberty. That justifies opposition to the Act.
Here, however is not the place and time where I want to discuss the subject of liberty in foundational terms. Rather, I would very much like to touch how the positioning of Pewaris and other pro-ISA group, as taken by them or described by the mainstream media is ultimately misleading.
It is with alarm that I note that it is typical for the press to describe these pro-ISA groups as Malay groups. Being pro-ISA and idenfitied as Malay groups, inevitably, it implies, on purpose or accidentally, that the position of the Malays are pro-ISA. It further implies that these groups represent the Malays as a whole.
Clearly, this is absolutely false. While the pro-ISA groups may be dominated by, if not all of their members are, Malays, it no whatsoever way says that these groups represent the Malays as a whole. These groups are not even elected by all the Malays. A large majority of Malays are likely not members of the groups too.
For the press to identify these pro-ISA groups as Malay groups, it appeals to the flawed idea that the Malays as a community are a monolithic group. Opinion of individual Malays on the matter is clearly not uniform on the matters. The clearest proof is the presence of Malays in the anti-ISA groups. Another proof: I am a Malay and I am unfriendly to the ISA.
The press needs to stop calling these pro-ISA groups as Malay groups to stop the unnecessary confusion and the unnecessary implication that the Malays are for ISA.
More accurate description or qualification will be required if the press continue to insist on associating these groups with the Malays. ‘Pro-Barisan Nasional Malay groups’, ‘Pro-UMNO Malay groups’ are two phrases that comes to my mind as better alternatives to term ‘Malay groups’.
The Malays, as a community, does not have one mind about being for or against ISA. Individual Malays however may.
 — One example:
GEORGE TOWN: Some 50 people from two Malay non-governmental organisations (NGOs) staged a peaceful protest in support of the Internal Security Act (ISA) at the ground floor foyer of Komtar here.
The Persatuan Putra Pulau Pinang and Pertubuhan Al-Ehsan Malaysia members held banners in support of the ISA at 10am and dispersed some 30 minutes later following police advice. [Two Malay NGOs want ISA to remain. The Star. July 29 2009]
Yet another example:
KUALA LUMPUR: Representatives from an umbrella body of Malay and Muslim non-governmental organisations lodged five police reports Sunday over several issues which they claimed endangered Muslim and Malay unity.
The Heritage Associations, Malay Cultural Organisations and Related Bodies Cooperation Network (Pewaris) urged the Government to act against groups which are asking for the abolition of the Internal Security Act (ISA). [Malay, Muslim NGOs lodge police reports. Zulkipli Abdul Rahman. The Star. November 23 2008]