Deputy minister Hanipa Maidin today defended his stand against the court order blocking the gathering by Chinese educationist group Dong Zong to discuss the introduction of Jawi in vernacular schools, brushing aside criticism by those whom he labelled as “religious extremists” and “ultra Malays”.
Hanipa, a former lawyer, said he was aware that many were unhappy with him for voicing support for Dong Zong’s constitutional rights.
“Some have even gone the extra mile by giving me nasty labels,” he told FMT.
“Truth be told, I am not mad at them, let alone disturbed by such nasty remarks. On the contrary, I view them as part and parcel of a vibrant democracy in the New Malaysia.
“I value their right to condemn me, just as I respect the rights of the opponents of Jawi,” he said, adding that this does not mean he subscribes to any one view.
Hanipa, who is the de facto deputy law minister, had drawn flak for his public disagreement with the police for obtaining a court order to stop Dong Zong from holding its congress.
“I may disagree with our brothers or sisters in Dong Zong, but I value their fundamental right to express their opinion against any government policy,” he said.
He told FMT today that it was his duty to ensure that every Malaysian, irrespective of race, religion or political ideology, is treated equally under the Federal Constitution.
“No one is superior to the constitution,” he said.
“As a member of the present administration, I am bound by the supreme law of the land to be faithful to its spirit as well as its letter.”
The police said they had obtained the court order after multiple reports lodged nationwide over fears that the gathering might disturb public peace.
Critics had warned that the congress would lead to retaliation from Malay associations and NGOs. – FMT